How To Perform Keyword Research To Boost Your SEO
What is SEO?
SEO is the acronym for Search Engine Optimisation. Search engine optimisation is the process of grooming your online presence so that your website ranks higher in search engines for certain keywords.
To be more precise, it is the process of making changes to your website’s code, structure, content, and overall web presence in order to make it easier for search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing to find, read, index, and rank your website. There are thousands of techniques related to SEO, ranging from converting Flash and image files (which are currently difficult for search engines to read/interpret) to plain HTML files to creating reference content and encouraging other websites to link back to it. It is the process of increasing the quality and quantity of traffic to your website through organic/natural search results.
Think of it like this; You have gone to one of the world’s biggest library, but the librarian speaks German, yet all the books are in English.
By optimising your website for search, you are using specific tactics like adding in extra bits of code and structuring your website in a specific way — that act like subtitles and make it easier for crawlers (our librarians) to understand, categorise, and index each web page.
It is important to note that you are not paying for this traffic in any way. It is coming to your website naturally.
What are keywords?
Keywords are words / phrases that web users type into the search box of search engines in order to find information or data suited to their needs or requirements. For example, if you are looking for a good restaurant in your neighbourhood on the web, you will type ‘Best Restaurant, XYZ Street’ and search results will pop up.
In such a scenario, the phrase ‘Best Restaurant, XYZ Street’ is the keyword. While some popular keywords may get thousands of searches every day, others may not be that popular. Keywords are very important for every business and website as they help to pull in the traffic in their favour for free of cost.
Keywords hold the power to raise the sales of your business dramatically if used correctly after proper research. There is a broad range of tools that you can use to select high ranking keywords on the web as well, and some of them include Wordtracker and Google Keyword Research platform, etcetra.
Types of keywords
Some of the most common types of keywords are:
- Product terms — These keywords are related to the products or services you offer. So if you have a large product base, then the list of product term keywords could be very long.
- Brand terms — Brand terms are the kind of keywords which produce the best conversion rate since they are words related to your brand. They are used by those who already know about your business or brand.
- Competitor terms — These are the keywords related to products, services and brand of the competitors and could be good for a business with money since the quality score requirement for using them has been tightened recently.
- Substitute product terms — These terms, like competitor terms, are expensive to bid upon but work well since they are the words or terms that someone may search rather than your product name or terms.
- Audience terms — This is the category of keywords which covers all the types of things your target audience may be searching for.
- Complementary product terms — These are the terms that go well with your product, for example if you sell pencils, the complementary product terms could be ‘pencil stands’.
What is Keyword Research?
Keyword research is defined as the process of finding out the exact search terms web users enter into the search field of search engines when looking for information. This practice is mainly used by Search Engine Optimization(SEO) professionals to get better rankings in search engines. As far as search marketing or online marketing is concerned, keyword research is the most fruitful, crucial and valuable activity to perform. By thorough researching and correctly using keywords in demand, your business’s sales could skyrocket like never before. These activities not only will help you to know which phrases or words to target for SEO but also enable you to know about your customers in general.
Keyword research is about getting as many visitors to your website as possible, but it is also about getting the right kinds of visitors. If done smartly, this process can help you fathom the market demand, a shift in choices and product preferences. You can also accordingly respond to these preferences and provide consumers with what they are looking for. It won’t be wrong to state that Keyword Research is the easiest method of understanding the preferences of consumers in any field.
One of the most searched keywords on the Google Search Engine is ‘Making Money’. This means that thousands and thousands of website and blog owners are fighting for this term. If keyword research has to enter the picture, then its aim will be to find all suitable word combinations that can be clubbed with ‘Making Money’ or mean the same thing. So using a phrase like ‘Making Money from Home’ is a better bet because it could be less competitive and thus gaining a ranking using it could be easier.
Advantages of Keyword Research
- Important to search engines and users: One of the main points of the importance of keywords and keyword research is that both search engines, as well as the users, are dependent upon them in order to locate your web site or land on it. If you do not select the right keywords, then you will not get a good ranking, and people would not be able to find you. But when you research keywords and apply them correctly in your content, your ranking goes up, and it makes you more accessible to users. This in turn pulls visitors to your website and chances of conversion may shoot up.
- Showcases hidden opportunities: Another benefit or point of the importance of keyword research is that it helps to showcase hidden opportunities or chances for your business. These opportunities may come up due to the many relevant terms that turn up after keyword research. These unexpected words may turn out to be profitable, and you may never have come across them without good research. These unanticipated words could help you receive considerable amounts of traffic to your site.
- Helps to save money: By doing good research on keywords, not only do you get to know a list of terms but also about the competitive figures, traffic information and others matters that may make it possible for you to focus your money as well as time in the right direction. For example, if you know that you are doing well better than other competitive websites as far as drawing consumers to your site, then you can cut down on investing more money on bidding, etc. Plus, the method of keyword research also helps you to know the negative keywords that may prevent you from investing on those.
HOW TO PERFORM KEYWORD RESEARCH
For digital marketers around the world, keyword research is not just an add-on but a necessity. It is a skill that has to be acquired and inculcated because if done correctly, it can produce better results than any other marketing or research methods. Smart marketers these days use keyword research not only for SEO purposes but also for finding out the topics they should be writing on and the phrases that must be used.
But how does one do effective keyword research?
Step 1. Prepare an initial list of new keywords you want to target
The first step to follow is to create an initial list or seed list of keywords. You should come up with a list of possible words, phrases, and topics that you think your audience may use to search you or the products or services that you offer. Remember that this is just an initial list and the final list will be created later on with more research and refinement.
The list that you prepare must be prepared without any limitation to the number of keywords but should be relevant to the kind of content you wish to produce.
Also, the list must include terms related to:
- Your brand name
- Product categories
- Product names
- Service categories
- Service names
- Purpose/use of product or service
- Competitor terms
- Complementary product or service terms
At this point, you may not need any software or tools to create the list but some tools that you can still use are Google Webmasters tool, Soovie, etc.
Step 2. Mark your keyword objectives after analysing the website
The next step to follow in keyword research is to analyse your website, observe your niche and then come up with topics that are most suitable to it. The topics/content must not use keywords or your brand name, etc. in the most obvious way or too many times but can have a subtle reference once or twice. You must be clear about what the website is offering, how it aims to woe visitors and what kind of content it must have. Only when you are clear about this, can you easily come up with better keywords. You must also make sure that you have a diverse range of topics and keywords to cover the website. This helps you to attract visitors with the varied type of search queries.
One of the ways to see which keywords are currently in demand is to enter a few of the most common keywords into the Google Search Engine. Google will then display some suggestions at the bottom of the search results page which you can use or refer to. You can also find more phrase and words by using the Google Suggest feature. This feature is clubbed with the Google Search and helps you find some similar words, phrases and lines that might prove possible keywords for you.
When you have analysed your website, chosen some topics and come up with a list of keywords to be used, then you are ready for your next step.
Step 3. Audience Research and Competitor Analysis
The next step is to engage yourself in some competitor and audience research and analysis. In order to attract visitors by ranking high up on the search engine, you need first to understand what your visitors look for and how you can let them reach it. Besides audience research, you also need to learn how the top players in your industry or field of work are doing.
What you can do to complete this step successfully:
(a) Audience research: It is important to understand what your audience is looking for. You must only use a set of keywords that are relevant to your website, product or brand. Using irrelevant but high ranking keywords may work for you, but only for a short period of time.
One of the ways of conducting audience research and finding out the popular search terms is to visit social media websites, forums and discussion groups to read the conversations among people and find out trending topics/objects, etc. The major thing to remember is that the audience must always come first and that your goal is to provide the audience with what they are looking for.
(b) Competitor analysis: It is important that you know which keywords are targeted the most by your competitors. To do this, you can begin by browsing through the content given on the web pages of your competitors’ websites. Once you have a list of some of these keywords, you can enter them into a search engine and see which websites come at the top of the rankings. Some tools that you can use to conduct an effective competitor analysis are SpyFlu, Wordtracker, and Keyword Spy.
Step 4. Utilise keyword tools to expand an initial keyword list
The next step is to make use of some keyword tools and software programs to expand the initial seed list that you had created. Now that you have researched the audience and done a thorough competitor analysis, you must have come up with some more possible keyword choices. It is now time to incorporate tools that help you create a more researched keyword list.
It is not advisable to depend on only one keyword tool since every source gets its results from varied sources. To come up with a comprehensive list, make use of multiple tools.
The following are some of the most used and useful tools:
- Keyword planner by Google: This keyword tool by Google is one of the favourites for bloggers and SEO experts all around the world. What this tool does is that it shows a huge list of keywords and phrases when you enter a single keyword or a few keywords in the search box. From the provided choices, you can pick the one most suitable for your website.
- Hubspot’s keyword app: This is another popular keyword tool that provides well researched and useful keyword suggestions. This app comes with several other features to make your research easier and effective.
- SEO ToolSet: This is a keyword tool or tracker which tells the users know how many times a particular word or phrase was used or searched in the Google Search Engine, Yahoo Search Engine, as well as Bing. If the searched keyword has a high search density, then this can point out to two things — high consumer demand for the service or product and that this is the language in which consumers are trying to look for products or services.
Step 5. Narrow down the keyword list
The last step in the keyword research procedure is to narrow down and finalise the keyword list. The list must be finalised in such a way that the last obtained keywords are enough to push up the rankings, attract more visitors and thereby result in better sales. This step of refining the list is important especially in SEO since there is a restriction on the total number of words or keywords. There are no major rules that apply when cutting down the list with your keywords.
It is important to consider the following factors while doing so:
(i) Relevance to the topic and website: One of the factors that you must take into consideration while narrowing down the keyword list is the relevance of the keywords to the topic of the content as well as the theme or purpose of the website. If the keyword is not at all suitable to your objective or topic, then it may drive some traffic for a little while but will cease to do so after a while.
(ii) Competition: There are some online tools and platforms where Google rates the keyword competition from high to low. Such tools can be used to find out whether your researched keywords face a lot of competition or not. These tools enable you to fathom the words that have a higher chance of winning. But even if you get a lot of competitive words, you shouldn’t be discouraged because it may still not be impossible to get higher rankings.
(iii) Category of keyword: You must focus on the keyword category that is closest to your theme, target or purpose. The categories must be utilised to understand the main purpose or aim of the search done by the user. Eliminate the less interesting or suitable terms that have no connection to your context.
(iv) Semantic groups: It is important to group similar terms together as they can later be utilised in PPC ad groups or other purposes. Also, this helps because if a group comes out to be very large, then you can eliminate some terms that are comparatively less interesting.
(v) Search Background: Another thing to consider while refining your list of keywords is to search the landscape. For example, enter one of your most important word or phrase into the Google Search box and see what comes up. Sometimes terms of ambiguous meanings may point out to a completely different direction and hence you might need to replace or modify them a little bit.
Types of SEO
There are three types SEO you would require for a well organic search strategy;
(i) On-Page SEO — On-page SEO relates to the content on your website. it includes strategies to optimise an individual page on a website and helps search engines to understand the topic of the content and make sure the website is a valuable source that people would like to find.
This type of SEO includes;
Keyword research: It is the process by which you research popular search terms people would type into search engines like Google, Bing or other engines
Content creation: Focuses on high quality content and primary keywords
Keyword Optimisation: Using the primary and the secondary keywords in the right place.
(ii)Technical SEO — helps in optimising your site for crawling and indexing, by making a site faster, understandable and well to crawl.
It cover everything from site maps, meta tags, site architecture, thin content, keyword research, etc
(iii)Off-page SEO — emphasises any action made outside of a website to impact your rankings within SERP. Activities fall into Off-Page SEO.
I hope you now realise why SEO is very important and why it is key to do keyword research in order to boost it. It forms an important, if not the most important part of your digital marketing strategy. Without optimising your websites for the search engines, your pages will be lost in the endless abyss of the Internet.
However, search engine optimisation is an ever-changing process. This is because search engines regularly update their algorithms to keep up with the latest trends.
Therefore, your SEO strategies must evolve to adapt to those changes. When it comes to SEO, make sure you prioritise quality over anything else.
- The Art of SEO — Eric Senge
- The Art of Social Media — Guy kawaski and Peg Fitzpatrick
- SEO made easy — Evan Bailyn
- SEO for growth — John Jantsch and Phil Singleton