Understanding Keyword Research
Image source: Quora
Think of your website as a store, and the keywords you target as the products you offer. Just as a store owner needs to understand what products their customers want in order to stock their shelves, a website owner needs to understand what keywords their target audience is searching for in order to optimize their content.
When a store owner is deciding what products to stock, they might consider factors like current trends, customer feedback, and the availability of products from their suppliers. Similarly, when conducting keyword research, a website owner might consider factors like current search trends, user feedback, and the competition levels for different keywords.
Once a store owner has identified the products they want to offer, they need to think about how to organize those products on their shelves. They might group similar products together or place high-demand products in more prominent locations. In the same way, a website owner needs to think about how to organize their content around the keywords they’ve identified. This might involve creating landing pages for different categories of keywords, or optimizing existing pages to target specific keywords.
Just as a store owner needs to regularly evaluate their inventory and adjust their offerings based on customer demand, a website owner needs to regularly evaluate their keyword research and adjust their content based on changes in search trends and user behavior.
What is Keyword Research?
Keyword research is the process of identifying the words and phrases that people use when searching for information on the internet, with the goal of using this information to optimize your website’s content for search engines. The process involves finding keywords that are relevant to your website or business, have high search volume, and low competition, and then using them strategically throughout your website’s content to improve your website’s visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs).
Keyword research is a crucial component of search engine optimization (SEO), as it helps website owners understand what their target audience is looking for and how to better target their content to meet those needs. By incorporating high-value keywords into your website’s content, you can improve your website’s ranking in search engine results pages, attract more organic traffic to your website, and ultimately increase conversions and revenue.
Importance of keyword research for SEO
1. Helps to understand the target audience
Image source: RecurPost
By conducting keyword research, website owners can gain insight into what their target audience is looking for online. This information can help businesses tailor their content to meet the needs of their target audience, and improve their website’s visibility in search engine results pages.
2. Improves website ranking
Image source: Neil Patel
Keyword research helps website owners to identify high-value keywords that are relevant to their business and have low competition. By incorporating these keywords into their website’s content, they can improve their website’s ranking in search engine results pages, making it easier for potential customers to find them online.
3. Increases organic traffic
Image source: ShoutMeLoud
By optimizing their website’s content for high-value keywords, businesses can attract more organic traffic to their website. Organic traffic refers to the visitors who come to a website as a result of a search engine query, without clicking on any paid ads.
4. Helps to stay competitive
Keyword research helps businesses stay competitive in their industry by identifying emerging trends and staying up-to-date with changes in search engine algorithms.
5. Improves user experience
Image source: Contentsquare
By creating content that is optimized for relevant keywords, businesses can improve the user experience on their website, making it easier for visitors to find the information they are looking for.
How to Conduct Keyword Research
Keyword research is a crucial part of SEO and content marketing, as it helps you understand what your target audience is searching for and what terms they use to find the information they need. Here are some steps to conduct keyword research:
1. Define your focus
When defining your focus, it’s important to think about the main topic or theme of your website, product, or service. This will help you narrow down your keyword research to the most relevant and valuable keywords for your business.
Before you start conducting keyword research, it’s essential to understand your business goals. Ask yourself questions such as: What do you want to achieve with your website or content? Are you trying to increase brand awareness, generate leads, or drive sales?
After figuring these questions out, identify your target audience and understand their needs and interests. What are their pain points and challenges? What information are they looking for? What questions do they have? This will help you create content that addresses their specific needs and interests.
2. Brainstorm initial keywords
Write down a list of initial keywords that are relevant to your focus. These can be general terms or specific phrases that your target audience might use to search for information.
What you can do is to put yourself in the shoes of your target audience and think about what they would search for when looking for information related to your business or product. For example, if you’re a fitness coach, your target audience might search for “workout routines,” “healthy meal plans,” or “fitness tips.”
Use industry-specific terminology or jargon that your target audience is likely to use when searching for information related to your business or product. For example, if you’re a software company, your target audience might search for “cloud computing,” “SaaS solutions,” or “enterprise software.”
Here are some examples of initial keywords for different businesses or industries:
- Fitness coach: workout routines, healthy meal plans, fitness tips, weight loss, cardio workouts
- Software company: cloud computing, SaaS solutions, enterprise software, CRM software, project management tools
- Pet store: dog food, cat toys, pet grooming, dog training, pet supplies
- Online store: online shopping, free shipping, online deals, discount codes, best online stores
- Travel agency: vacation packages, adventure travel, luxury vacations, travel guides, cheap flights
Remember, these are just initial keywords, and you’ll need to refine and expand your list as you conduct more thorough keyword research. Brainstorming initial keywords is a great way to get started and generate ideas for your keyword research.
3. Use keyword research tools
Keyword research tools are essential for conducting effective keyword research, as they help you discover new keyword opportunities, identify trends, and understand what your target audience is searching for. Here are some examples of popular keyword research tools:
Google Keyword Planner is one of the free keyword research tools that allows you to find keywords related to your business or product and provides data on search volume, competition, and suggested bids for AdWords campaigns. It’s a great tool for finding high-volume keywords and identifying related keywords.
Image source: Google Support
Ahrefs is a paid tool that provides comprehensive data on backlinks, organic search traffic, and keywords. It allows you to find high-value keywords, analyze keywords in your competitors’ keyword strategies, and track your website’s performance.
Image source: Ahrefs
SEMrush is a paid tool that provides data on keyword rankings, backlinks, and organic search traffic. It allows you to find new keyword opportunities, track your competitors’ keyword strategies, and analyze the performance of your website and content.
Image source: SEMrush
Moz Keyword Explorer is a paid tool that provides data on search volume, competition, and opportunity for a specific keyword. It also provides suggestions for related keywords, helps you analyze your competitors’ keyword strategies, and track your keyword rankings.
Image source: Moz
Keyword Tool is a free and paid tool that generates keyword suggestions from Google, YouTube, Bing, and Amazon. It provides data on search volume, competition, and trends and allows you to find new keyword opportunities and identify long-tail keywords.
Image source: Nectafy
When using keyword research tools, it’s important to keep in mind that the data is not always 100% accurate and may vary depending on the tool and location. It’s best to use multiple tools and cross-reference the data to get a better understanding of what keywords to target.
4. Analyze competition
Analyzing the competition is an essential part of keyword research, as it helps you understand what keywords your competitors are targeting, how they are ranking for those keywords, and what strategies they are using to rank higher in search results.
Here are some tips on how to analyze your competition in keyword research:
- Identify your competitors: Make a list of your main competitors and analyze their websites, content, and social media profiles. Look for competitors who are targeting the same keywords as you and have a similar target audience.
- Analyze their content: Analyze the content on your competitors’ websites and social media profiles to understand what keywords they are targeting and how they are using them. Look for patterns in their content, such as the length, format, and tone, and see if you can find any gaps or opportunities that you can capitalize on.
- Use keyword research tools: Use keyword research tools such as Ahrefs, SEMrush, or Moz to analyze your competitors’ keyword strategies.
- Analyze their backlinks: Backlinks are a key factor in search engine rankings, so it’s essential to analyze your competitors’ backlink profiles. Look for the websites that are linking to your competitors and see if you can get links from those same websites. Use backlink analysis tools like Ahrefs or Majestic to analyze your competitors’ backlink profiles and find new link building opportunities.
- Monitor their performance: Keep track of your competitors’ performance over time and see how their rankings, traffic, and engagement change. Use analytics tools like Google Analytics or SEMrush to monitor their performance and compare it to your own. Analyze the changes in their keyword rankings and see if you can identify any trends or opportunities.
Remember, analyzing your competition is not about copying their strategy, but rather understanding what works and what doesn’t work in your industry. Use the insights you gain from analyzing your competition to refine your keyword strategy, improve your content, and find new opportunities to rank higher in search results.
5. Choose relevant and high-value keywords
Choosing the right keywords is crucial for your SEO strategy, as it helps you attract the right audience, rank higher in search results, and drive more traffic to your website. Here are some tips on how to choose relevant and high-value keywords:
- Focus on long-tail keywords: Long-tail keywords are more specific and targeted than short-tail keywords, and they often have lower competition. Use long-tail keywords that are relevant to your business or product and that your target audience is likely to use. For example, instead of targeting “shoes,” target “women’s running shoes for flat feet.
- Consider user intent: User intent is the reason behind a search query, and it’s essential to understand when choosing keywords. Consider the intent behind the keywords you are targeting and make sure your content matches that intent. Use informational, navigational, and transactional keywords to target different stages of the buyer’s journey.
- Monitor and adjust: Monitor your keyword rankings and performance over time and adjust your strategy accordingly. Use analytics tools like Google Analytics or SEMrush to monitor your performance and compare it to your competitors. Identify underperforming keywords and adjust your content and strategy to improve your rankings.
Remember, choosing relevant and high-value keywords is an ongoing process, and it’s essential to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and changes in your industry. Use a combination of keyword research tools, competitor analysis, and user intent to choose the right keywords for your business or website.
6. Group keywords
This is an essential step in organizing your keyword strategy and optimizing your content for search engines. Grouping keywords helps you identify related topics, understand the search intent behind the keywords, and create content that matches the user’s query. Here are some tips on how to group your keywords:
Start with your seed keywords: Start by listing your seed keywords, which are the primary keywords that define your business or product. Use these keywords to generate related keywords and create a list of potential topics.
Use keyword research tools: Use keyword research tools to find related keywords and topics. Look for keywords that are semantically related to your seed keywords and group them into themes or topics.
Organize your keywords: Once you have a list of related keywords, organize them into groups or themes. Group keywords based on their relevance, search intent, or topic. Use a spreadsheet or a keyword research tool to organize your keywords.
Create content around your keywords: Use your keyword groups to create content that matches the user’s search intent. Create a page or a blog post around each group of keywords and make sure your content is relevant and informative. Use your keywords naturally in your content and avoid overusing them.
Image source: Ahrefs
Optimize your metadata: Optimize your metadata, including your page title, meta description, and header tags, to include your target keywords. Make sure your metadata accurately reflects the content on your page and matches the user’s search intent.
7. Refine and update
If one does not refine and update their SEO keyword list, they risk falling behind their competitors and losing valuable search engine traffic. Search engine algorithms are continually evolving, and user search behavior is constantly changing, so it’s essential to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and adjust your keyword strategy accordingly.
- Refine your content to match the user’s search intent and include your target keywords naturally. Update your existing content to reflect the latest trends and changes in your industry. Use your analytics data to identify underperforming content and update it to improve your rankings.
- Stay up-to-date with the latest trends and changes in your industry and adjust your keyword strategy accordingly. Monitor industry publications, social media, and other sources to stay informed about the latest developments.
- Test and experiment with different keywords and content formats to see what works best for your audience. Use A/B testing and other experimentation techniques to refine your strategy and improve your results.
Remember, refining and updating your keywords is an ongoing process, and it’s essential to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and changes in your industry. Use a combination of keyword research tools, competitor analysis, content creation, and experimentation to optimize your keyword strategy and improve your search engine rankings.
Here are some potential consequences of not refining and updating your SEO keyword list:
- Decreased search engine rankings: If your competitors are refining and updating their keyword strategies, they may start to outrank you for valuable search terms, causing your search engine rankings to decrease.
- Decreased organic traffic: If your search engine rankings decrease, you may see a decline in organic traffic to your website. This can result in fewer leads, conversions, and sales.
- Missed opportunities: If you’re not monitoring and updating your keyword strategy, you may miss valuable opportunities to target new keywords, attract new audiences, and improve your search engine rankings.
- Poor user experience: If your content doesn’t match the user’s search intent or is outdated, users may have a poor experience on your website, causing them to leave and potentially never return.
Image source: Aleyda Solis
Keyword mapping is the process of assigning target keywords to specific pages on your website based on the content and purpose of each page. The goal of keyword mapping is to ensure that each page on your website is optimized for the most relevant and valuable keywords, which can improve your search engine rankings and attract more targeted traffic to your website.
Here’s how the keyword mapping process works:
1. Conduct keyword research
Start your keyword research process by identifying the most relevant and valuable keywords for your website. Look for keywords with high search volume, low competition, and strong relevance to your business or industry.
2. Group keywords
Group your keywords into themes or topics based on their relevance and similarity to each other. This will make it easier to map your keywords to specific pages on your website.
3. Analyze your website structure
Analyze the structure of your website, including the navigation, sitemap, and content hierarchy. This will help you determine which keywords should be assigned to each page on your website.
4. Assign keywords to pages
Assign your target keywords to specific pages on your website based on the content and purpose of each page. Make sure each page is optimized for one or two primary keywords and several related keywords.
5. Optimize content
Once you’ve assigned keywords to each page on your website, optimize the content on each page to include the target keywords naturally. Make sure the content matches the user’s search intent and provides valuable information or solutions.
6. Monitor and update
Monitor your keyword rankings and traffic to see how your keyword mapping is performing. Update your keyword mapping as needed to optimize your website for the most relevant and valuable keywords.
Importance of keyword mapping for SEO
1. Improves website structure
By mapping target keywords to specific pages on a website, you can ensure that each page has a clear focus and purpose. This can improve the overall structure of the website and make it easier for both search engines and users to navigate.
2. Enhances relevance
By optimizing each page for specific target keywords, you can improve the relevance of the page in search engine results. This can help attract more targeted traffic to the website and improve overall search engine rankings.
3. Increases click-through rates
When a page is optimized for specific target keywords, the page title and meta description can also be optimized to include those keywords. This can improve the visibility and appeal of the page in search engine results, which can lead to higher click-through rates.
4. Provides a roadmap for content creation
Keyword mapping can also help guide content creation by identifying gaps in keyword coverage on the website. By identifying areas where additional content is needed, you can create new content that is optimized for specific target keywords and improve the overall relevance and authority of the website.
Best Practices for Keyword Research
1. Keep your focus on user intent, not just search volume
User intent refers to the reason why someone is searching for a particular keyword or phrase.
Image source: SEMrush
For example, if someone types “best running shoes” into a search engine, their intent is likely to find information about running shoes that are considered the best in terms of quality, comfort, and performance. On the other hand, if someone searches for “cheap running shoes”, their intent is likely to find running shoes that are affordable, rather than necessarily the best quality or performance.
By understanding user intent, you can optimize your content to provide the information that users are looking for. Perhaps you can create content on “How to Choose the Best Running Shoes for Your Needs” for the keywords above. This can improve your website’s relevance and authority, leading to higher search engine rankings and more targeted traffic.
Image source: WordStream
Focusing solely on search volume for keyword research can result in targeting keywords that may have high search volume but low relevance to your business or website. This can lead to low click-through rates and high bounce rates, which can negatively impact your website’s performance.
Therefore, it’s essential to prioritize keywords that align with the intent of your target audience and your business goals, rather than just their search volume. This approach will help you create high-quality content that provides value to your audience and ultimately improve your website’s performance in search engine results pages.
2. Optimize for long-tail keywords
Image source: SEMrush
Long-tail keywords are phrases that are more specific and contain more words than shorter, more generic keywords. They typically have lower search volume but higher intent and conversion rates. When optimizing for long-tail keywords during keyword research, there are a few key points to keep in mind:
- Focus on the user’s intent: Because long-tail keywords are more specific, they often reflect a user’s intent more accurately than shorter keywords. As such, it’s important to understand the intent behind a user’s search query and create content that aligns with their needs.
- Use natural language: Long-tail keywords often reflect the way people naturally speak and ask questions. As such, it’s important to use natural language and conversational tone when creating content that targets long-tail keywords.
- Consider the buying cycle: Long-tail keywords are often used by users who are further along in the buying cycle and are more likely to convert. As such, it’s important to optimize your content for long-tail keywords that reflect the user’s intent and buying cycle.
- Leverage local search: Long-tail keywords that include location-specific terms can be especially powerful for businesses with a local presence. For example, “best pizza delivery near me” or “affordable plumbing services in New York”.
- Use long-tail keywords in your content: When optimizing your content for long-tail keywords, it’s important to include them in your page titles, headings, meta descriptions, and throughout the body of your content. This helps search engines understand what your content is about and can improve your rankings for those keywords.
3. Avoid keyword stuffing
Image source: ContentWriter
Keyword stuffing is the practice of overusing keywords in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings. This can involve using keywords repeatedly within a piece of content, including them in irrelevant places on a page, or using invisible text with keywords. The goal of keyword stuffing is to trick search engines into ranking a page higher for certain keywords, even if the content is low-quality or irrelevant.
However, keyword stuffing is a black hat SEO tactic that can actually harm your website’s rankings and reputation in the long run. Here are some reasons why:
- It violates search engine guidelines: Major search engines like Google have guidelines that prohibit keyword stuffing. If your website is caught engaging in this practice, it can be penalized and may even be removed from search results.
- It can harm user experience: Keyword stuffing often leads to low-quality content that is difficult to read or understand. This can result in a poor user experience, which can lead to high bounce rates and low engagement.
- It can harm your website’s reputation: Keyword stuffing can harm your website’s reputation by making it look spammy or low-quality. This can deter users from visiting your website or sharing your content, which can limit your reach and impact.
To avoid keyword stuffing during keyword research, it’s important to focus on creating high-quality, relevant content that serves the needs of your audience. This means using keywords naturally and sparingly, and only where they make sense. Here are some tips for avoiding keyword stuffing:
- Use variations of your target keyword: Instead of using the same keyword repeatedly, use variations of the keyword or related keywords that are relevant to your content.
- Write for humans, not search engines: Focus on creating high-quality content that provides value to your audience, rather than trying to manipulate search engine rankings.
- Use keywords strategically: Incorporate your target keywords into your page title, headings, and meta descriptions, but avoid overusing them in the body of your content.
- Use tools to check keyword density: Use tools like Yoast SEO or SEMrush to check your keyword density and ensure you are not overusing keywords.
Best Keywords for SEO
It’s important to keep in mind that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to doing SEO keyword research. Rather, the best keywords are the ones that are popular among your target audience.
When selecting keywords, consider their relevance to your content, as well as their authority and monthly search volume. It’s advisable to focus on highly searched keywords that you can realistically compete for, taking into account factors such as the level of competition you’re facing and your ability to create high-quality content that outperforms what’s already ranking.
- To attract search traffic, you need to create content that addresses topics people are searching for.
- Analyzing your competitors’ keywords can be a useful starting point for your own keyword research.
- Professional tools can generate a large number of keyword ideas based on your initial keywords.
- Search volumes are important, but Search Intent can help optimize your content to provide the information that users are looking for.
- Keyword Difficulty is helpful for estimating links needed to rank, but doesn’t provide a clear path to ranking #1.
- Before targeting multiple keywords, determine if they are part of the same topic or distinct topics that require separate pages.
- Analyzing search intent can help guide you in creating content that aligns with what people are searching for.
- Prioritizing keywords based on business potential score can help you identify the most promising keywords for your product or service.