Among the regular algorithm updates that Google keeps rolling out, one thing that has remained constant for inbound marketers is the need to optimize their websites for search engines. And one of the most effective ways to do it is by conducting keyword research.
Although, performing keyword research is still a necessity just like it has always been, how you do that research isn’t the same.
What Is Keyword Research?
Keyword Research is the process of discovering and evaluating the search phrases or words that people type into search engines to learn about relevant topics. The insights you gain from keyword research can help you build your content as well as marketing strategy since these keywords act as the base of your content.
Why Is Keyword Research Important?
Being in the marketing world, we often hear how dramatically SEO has evolved in the past ten years and how secondary keywords have become essential for our ability to rank higher for the searches audience is making daily.
This is, however, true to some extent. Utilizing keywords that precisely match people’s search terms is no longer a major ranking factor from an SEO professional’s perspective. Instead, what truly matters is the intent behind that keyword and whether or not your content fulfills that intent.
So let’s see how keyword research helps you in this:
Conducting keyword research will give you insights on the topics that your target audience is interested in and how popular these topics are among them, presuming that you are using the correct SEO tool. Now, the functional term here is – topics. By researching keywords that are receiving a high amount of search every month, you can identify and categorize your content into topics that you wish to cover. Further, you can use these topics to decide which keywords you need to find and target.
By performing keyword research for their popularity, search volume, and general intent, you will be able to grasp questions that the majority of your audience needs answers to.
How Does Search Intent Influences Keyword Research?
As mentioned earlier, search intent has now become one of the critical factors in determining your site’s ability to rank higher on search engines. Today it is crucial that your content addresses the problem that the searcher intended to find answers to instead of just carrying the keyword they searched.
The keywords you research can have different meanings. And because of the importance of search intent for your ranking, you need to be more careful about how you interpret the keywords you target in your content. This will be understood better with an example.
Let’s assume you research the keyword ”Mercury” as a topic for an article you are about to write. Now, this mercury can mean the planet of metal, and what the searcher’s intent is behind this keyword will impact the direction of your content. The best way to know the user intent is by entering this keyword into the search engine and see what kind of results come up.
Now, if you decide to write an article on Mercury planet, using secondary keywords like Earth, Mars, or Solar System will help the search engine in ranking your article better and for that particular search intent. If you decide to go with the latter, using keywords like Metal, Liquid Metal, or Chemistry can help the search engine in understanding the intent. Whichever topic you decide, just make sure that your content serves the searcher intent.
So, moving further, let’s discuss a well-calculated strategy to help you perform keyword research correctly so that you can rank better for the search terms you honestly care about.
How To Do Keyword Research For SEO?
- Prepare a list of essential and related topics based on your knowledge about your business
You can start off by thinking about the topics you want your website to rank for. You’ll come up with 5-10 topics at least that you feel are vital for your business, note them down. Put yourself in the shoes of your audience and think about what topics they would search for to find your business. Jot down these topics too.
Once you are ready with your list, the next step will be to use these topics to search for relevant keywords along with their monthly search volumes too.
- Find relevant keywords for those topics
Now that you have your topic list with you, it’s time to search for relevant keywords that fall under these topics. These keywords will be the ones you consider crucial for ranking in the SERPs because your target audience will be using these search terms probably. Just write down whatever keyword phrases cross your mind. The idea is to find the keywords not finalize them. The list will be narrowed down later.
Also, you might want to include the keywords for which your website is already ranking. You can search for such keywords using tools like Google Analytics. Repeat this process for every topic you have written down.
- Research related search terms
This step involves creativity, and this probably must have occurred to you during the keyword research step. It is a great way to fill your keyword list for individual topics.
Moreover, if in case you struggle to find more related keywords for a particular topic, simply visit Google and search for the topic. Scroll down at the end of the SERP; you will see the related searches section. Note down those keyword phrases, and you are done! For an additional bonus, you can search for these “related search terms’’ to find their relevant search terms!
- Review for a combination of head terms and long-tail keywords for each topic
First, let’s make you clear on what head terms and long-tail keywords are. Head terms refer to keywords that are short and generic, usually consisting of two to three words. On the other hand, long-tail keywords refer to long keyword phrases, typically consisting of more than three words.
You need to review that you have a combination of head terms and long-tail keywords for each topic because these will provide a well-balanced keyword strategy with short-term wins and long-term goals. This is because head terms are searched more often, which makes them more competitive, and at the same time, they are harder to rank for as compared to long-tail keywords. For example, “blog” is a head term, and “how to write a blog” is a long-tail keyword. Now which one do you think is harder to rank for? The latter!
This is because someone searching for “how to write a blog” is a qualified searcher who has a more clear search intent. Therefore, having a mix of these keywords is vital.
- Analyze how your competitors are ranking for these keywords
If your competitor is doing something, it doesn’t mean you have to do it too. Likewise, if a keyword is essential to your competitor doesn’t mean it is necessary for you also. Although, analyzing the keywords which your competitors are working on for ranking will give you an excellent opportunity to reevaluate your keyword list.
For instance, if your competitor is trying to rank for a keyword that is on your list too, it means you need to focus on it more to rank. You can find the keywords your competitors are trying to or already ranking for by using SEO tools.
- Utilize Google Adwords Keyword Planner to narrow down your keyword list
Now that you have prepared your complete list of topics and keywords mix, it’s time to cut down your list. The best tool for this purpose will be Google Adwords Keyword Planner.
Create an Adwords account to get started. Google Adwords Keyword Planner helps you obtain search volumes and traffic estimates for keywords that you are planning on using. Use this planner to omit any keywords that have way too little or way too much search volume as these keywords would disrupt your perfectly balanced keyword combination like we discussed in Step 4. However, before you kick out any keywords, use Google Trends to see their trend history and projections. And who knows, maybe you will discover that some of these low search volume keywords might be a great bet for investment now to reap the benefits in the long run. With the help of both these tools, you will be able to narrow down your list and determine which keywords are trending upwards.
Well, with this, you will have your discreet keyword list ready to boost your ranking. Do not forget to reevaluate this list frequently as trends and search volumes change. Let us know how this keyword research strategy works out for your business via the comments below.