Keyword research can help you uncover valuable insights into your target market and the topics they’re interested in, as well as identify potential opportunities to rank for high-volume search terms.
According to Ahrefs, 94.74% of keywords get 10 monthly searches or fewer, which shows us that without careful research, it would be nearly impossible for SEO professionals or content marketers to maximize their effectiveness when working on organic search optimization efforts.
If you want to understand your customer base better and have a higher presence in SERPs, it’s time to dive into some basics of keyword research! Keep reading and learn how to conduct successful keyword studies – from putting together an effective strategy all the way through evaluating results – so that you can improve your ranking power over time.
Let’s get started!
What is keyword research?
Keyword research is the process of finding and analyzing search terms that are relevant to your business, products, or services. They can help you uncover valuable insights into how your target audience is searching for information so that you can create content that meets their needs and ranks higher in search engine result pages (SERPs).
When done well, keyword research will provide an understanding of how to drive traffic organically to your website or app. It also reveals what people are actually typing into search engines and how often they are using a particular keyword phrase. Knowing how to use this data can give you a better understanding of how your customers interact with your website or app.
What are the Elements of Keyword Research?
There are a few key elements to be considered when conducting SEO keyword research:
- Relevance: How relevant is the keyword to your business? Are people searching for terms related to what you’re offering or are they looking for something else entirely? Knowing how closely a term relates to your product or service will help you determine how effective keywords could be.
- Volume: How many people are searching for a particular keyword? The volume will tell you how often your potential keyword is used in search queries, which can help you determine how effective it will be for SEO purposes. The higher the search volume, the more potential there is to rank for that term.
- Authority: How competitive is the keyword? Backlinko shows us that link authority continues to be an important ranking signal for Google, which means you’ll have better chances for ranking with more backlinks pointing out to your page.
You can also consider:
- Competitors: What keywords are your competitors targeting? This can help you determine how to differentiate yourself and how to position yourself in the market.
- Geography: Are there any local terms or phrases that would be beneficial to target? If you’re targeting a specific geographic area, consider how location can affect which keywords will be most successful.
- Trends: Are there any trends related to how people are searching for a particular term? Knowing how people search now, as well as how their behavior may change over time, will help you optimize your content accordingly.
Why is keyword research important?
Keyword research is important because it helps you understand how your target audience finds information online. Knowing which terms they’re typing into search engines will help you create content that ranks higher in SERPs and drives organic traffic to your website or app. It also allows you to better tailor content and messaging for specific audiences, as well as identify potential opportunities to capture more traffic.
By conducting targeted keyword research, you can create content that is both useful and relevant to your target customers. This will help keep them engaged and increase the likelihood of them returning to your website or app in the future. Additionally, understanding how people search can also give you insights into how they are perceiving certain topics, which can help inform how you position yourself in the market.
It’s important to note that keyword research is a multifaceted process. It involves both understanding how people are searching for your content and how those terms are being used by search engines to rank results. As you conduct keyword research, keep in mind how the terms you uncover fit into each of these areas.
Keywords vs. Topics
Another thing that’s important to distinguish is the difference between keywords and topics. Although both can be used in SEO, they serve different purposes.
Keywords are short phrases that are typically one or two words long, while topics are broader themes that encompass multiple related terms. For example, if you were running a blog about design trends in 2021, some of your keywords might include “modern web design”, “responsive design”, and “flat design”. The topic would be “how to use design trends in 2021.”
However, focusing on both is the way to go. You’ll want to start by targeting relevant keywords and then roll those up into broad topics that will help you rank for multiple terms related to your business.
Before you start to research
Before conducting research, you should ask questions such as:
- Who is my target audience?
- What are they searching for?
- Which keywords will help me achieve my goals?
- What topics should I focus on to capture the most organic traffic?
- Are there any local terms or phrases that should be included in the research?
By knowing how to answer these questions, you’ll have a better idea of how to start your research and which terms can provide the best value for SEO.
Once you have a better understanding of how your target market behaves, it’s time to start researching.
Step 1: Come up with a list of the most important, relevant topics
Start by brainstorming a list of topic ideas related to your business and industry. For example, if you’re selling furniture, some of the topics might include “interior design”, “furniture trends” or “modern living room designs”.
In order to come up with the most comprehensive list, it’s helpful to think of how you would search for your own products or services online. This will help you come up with the most relevant topics that are likely to be used by your target audience.
Step 2: Find keywords and phrases related to your chosen topics
There are a few different keyword research methods and keyword research tools that can help with this, such as Google Adwords Keyword Planner or SEMrush. These SEO tools will generate lists of related terms based on the topics you input, as well as provide metrics such as search volume ranges and competition level. This will help you find keywords that are popular but not too competitive to outrank.
Identify the “seed” keywords
Once you have a list of related terms, the next step is to start narrowing it down to only the most relevant keywords and phrases. Start by identifying the “seed” keywords for each topic, which are the most important terms to focus on. These seeds will help you find new related terms that may be more specific and better suited for ranking.
For example, if one of your topics is “modern living room designs”, some seed keywords might include “modern living room”, “contemporary living room”, and “modern furniture designs”.
Analyze the current competition
In order to identify how competitive a keyword is, it’s important to analyze the actual competition and keywords that are already being used. This can be done by using tools such as Google Trends or Ahrefs to find related terms, as well as how they rank compared to your own content. By analyzing the competition, you’ll be able to identify which keywords have the highest search volume but aren’t too competitive and may provide the best bang for your buck.
Once you have a good understanding of how the competition is performing, you can start to tweak your keywords and strategize how to outrank them. Keyword strategy will help you maximize the organic traffic potential coming from search engines.
Identify related terms
Another important step in keyword research is to identify related terms that can be used for optimizing your content. These could be synonyms of the keywords you’re targeting or terms that are related to the main topic. This will help you reach a wider audience, as well as improve your content’s relevancy on different search engines.
To do so, you can use online tools such as Google’s Related Searches or search engine autocomplete features.
Discover keyword opportunities you’re overlooking
Finally, it’s important to be aware of keyword opportunities you may be overlooking. This could include local terms or phrases that are relevant to your business but aren’t as widely used. These words and phrases can provide great value for SEO, as they will likely have lower competition levels than more popular keywords. For example, if you’re a small furniture store in Los Angeles, try targeting “Los Angeles furniture stores” as well as more general terms such as “modern living room designs”.
By following these steps, you should be able to develop a comprehensive list of keyword ideas and phrases relevant to your business and industry. But what’s next?
Step 3: Analyze your Keywords
Now that you have a list of keywords and phrases relevant to your business, the next step is to analyze how the search terms are being used. This will help you determine how people are searching for your products or services online, as well as how to optimize content for these searches.
Check out Key Metrics
When analyzing keywords, be sure to check out key metrics such as search volume and competition level. This will help you identify the most popular searches and how competitive the keyword is for ranking.
If your ideal target keyword has a high search volume but low competition, you may have an easier time ranking for that term than more general terms. Or if your keyword has a high search volume, but the competition level is too high, you may need to tweak how you’re targeting those terms or look for related phrases that are easier to rank for.
Analyze Search Intent Category
In addition to checking out metrics, it’s also important to analyze how people are searching for your products or services. This will help you determine the types of search intent behind each search and how best to optimize content for these searches.
For example, if someone is searching for “how to decorate a living room” they may be looking for tips and advice, whereas if they’re searching for “modern living room designs” they may be looking specifically for inspiration or ideas. By understanding how people are searching for your products or services, you can tailor content accordingly to better serve their needs.
Prioritize low-hanging fruit
Low-hanging fruit refers to keywords and phrases that are more likely to rank on search engine result pages (SERPs) and you’ll want to prioritize these terms when optimizing your content. They usually have a high search volume but a low competition level, which makes them easier to rank for than more competitive keywords.
To use the same example as above, if you’re a furniture store in Los Angeles, targeting “modern living room designs” may be more competitive than targeting “Los Angeles furniture stores”. In this case, you would want to prioritize the low-hanging fruit and focus on optimizing content for “Los Angeles furniture stores” first.
Save Keywords to a Keyword List
Once you’ve analyzed how people are searching and how competitive the keywords are, be sure to save all of your relevant keywords to a keyword list. Each of the mentioned tools will have the option to save these keywords, which will make it easy for you to refer back to them later or collaborate with others on your team.
Step 4. Reduce your keyword list with Google Keyword Planner
Now you probably have a large list of keywords you think are relevant to your business. But how do you know which ones will bring the most value?
This is where Google Keyword Planner comes in. This keyword tool allows you to narrow down your keyword list with more detailed metrics, including search volume and competition level. With this information, you can get a better understanding of how your keywords are performing and how you should prioritize them.
By reducing your keyword list with the help of Google Keyword Planner, you can make sure that you’re optimizing for the most valuable terms, as well as getting rid of any redundancies.
It’s also important to keep in mind how often a keyword is being used, how it’s trending, how long the keyword has been popular, and how much it may cost to target a particular keyword. All of this information can help you make more informed decisions on how to optimize your content for the best possible results.
See how your competitors are ranking for the chosen keywords
You’ve narrowed down your keyword list, and you’re ready to start optimizing your content. But how do you know how you’ll rank against the competition?
By looking at how other websites are ranking for the same or similar keywords, you can get an idea of how difficult it might be to outrank them. If a competitor is already ranking for the same term that you want to target, then it may be more difficult to rank for that keyword yourself. In this case, you may want to look into targeting a different keyword that isn’t quite as competitive.
Step 5: Identify the Primary Keyword
The primary keyword will typically be the most important, single keyword for your content and should be included in the title as well as throughout the body of your content. It should also be used in other areas such as meta descriptions, alt tags, and other areas of your website where appropriate.
Make sure to identify the primary keyword before you start creating content or adjusting your website, as this will help guide how you structure your content and how you prioritize other keywords.
Step 6: Implement & Monitor Keywords
With your reduced keyword list and primary keyword identified, you’re now ready to start implementing your keywords on the website. Start by optimizing your content with the primary keyword as well as other related keywords, making sure to not overuse them.
After they have been implemented, it’s important to monitor how they are performing and how they are impacting your content. You can do this by tracking how much traffic each keyword is bringing to your site, how it’s affecting conversion rates, and how well the content is ranking for those keywords.
Other things to consider
Researching and implementing keywords is an ongoing process and should be monitored consistently. As trends change, search algorithms evolve, and competition levels fluctuate, it’s important to stay up to date on how your keywords are performing. A few other things that you can do to increase the effectiveness of your keyword research include keeping track of new trends in keyword use, staying informed about any changes to search engine optimization (SEO) guidelines, and testing how different keywords perform for your content. By following the steps outlined above and continually monitoring how your keywords are performing, you can ensure that you’re optimizing your website with the most valuable terms and getting the best possible results.
Long-tail vs short-tail keywords
So-called Long-Tail keywords are more specific phrases that can be targeted with SEO content, while short-tail keywords refer to broader topics. Although both keyword types can be effective, typically long-tail keywords are more valuable with click-through rates 3-5% greater than regular keywords. Besides that, according to Ahrefs, Google shows meta descriptions in search results only 37.22% of the time, and that rises to 40.35% for fat-head keywords and drops to 34.38% for long-tails.
Another thing to consider when conducting keyword research is how different geographic regions use different terms. Bear in mind that 46% of all searches have local intent, with the number of monthly local searches being 97 billion. This can also be important if you are targeting customers in a specific area and want to make sure that the content is optimized for local search results.
Seasonal and trendy keywords
Lastly, it’s important to also look for any seasonal or trendy keywords that might be relevant to your content. For example, if you target a keyword related to the holiday season, it would make sense to include this term in your research. Similarly, if there’s a popular search trend that is relevant to your content, it can be useful to include this in your keyword research as well.
Keyword research is an essential part of any successful SEO strategy – or even any online business strategy! -and by understanding the process and its importance, your website can rank higher with minimal effort.
However, if the process looks too difficult, or you simply don’t have the time to do it, our marketing advisors can help you research, implement, and monitor keywords for your content, or even create the content for you. Reach out if you have any questions or drop us a comment below.
What are branded keywords?
Branded keywords are words and phrases that include your company’s name or products. For example, a branded keyword might be “LFDM marketing advising” and these terms are important to monitor as they can give insight into how visible and successful your brand is and how customers talk about it online.
What are the key SEO factors?
The key SEO factors generally include:
- how relevant, unique, and high-quality your content is to the keyword
- how well your content is optimized for search engines
- how many other websites link to yours
- how fast your website loads
- how user-friendly it is
- how often do people visit and interact with your content
- …and more!
All of these factors are important to consider when conducting keyword research.
What is diversification?
Diversification is the practice of spreading keyword research out over a range of different topics, while still maintaining relevance to your main content. This can help ensure that you are targeting as many potential customers and search queries as possible.
How much search volume should I target?
When conducting keyword research, you should aim to target keywords that have a reasonable amount of monthly search volume. This can vary depending on your goals, but targeting keywords with at least 100 monthly searches is generally a good starting point.
What is the best tool to find keyword data?
Google’s Keyword Planner is a great tool to use for keyword research. It provides detailed information such as search volume, competition levels, and related keywords that can help you get an idea of how different terms perform. Besides that, there are also tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Moz that provide more detailed keyword data.
How do I get Google to exclude keywords?
Google allows you to exclude certain words from your search queries. This can be useful if there is a term that is irrelevant or that doesn’t fit with the content you are trying to rank for. To do this, simply use the minus sign (-) before the keyword when searching in Google. For example, if you want to exclude “shoes” from your query, you would type in: “keyword research -shoes”.
How much does keyword research cost?
The cost of keyword research depends on the amount of time and effort you are willing to put into it. If you do it yourself, there is no cost involved apart from the time taken to research, or maybe some additional features from the tools you’re using. However, if you prefer to outsource the keyword research process, it can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars depending on how many keywords need to be researched and how detailed the research needs to be.
What is Content Strategy?
Content Strategy is a plan for how to create content that is relevant and useful to your target audience. It involves researching and understanding the needs of your customers, defining topics that you would like to cover, doing keyword research, creating content outlines, optimizing content, distributing it on different platforms, etc. Content Strategy creation is there to help you provide valuable information to your visitors, while it also shows that your website or blog is optimized for search engine traffic.