There is no SEO without keyword research. Whether it’s for changing a title or writing the copy for your entire website, if keyword research is not on your top priorities, it’s certain that you’ll fail to achieve your goals. (Unless your goals are to fail at getting organic traffic, in which case, you will succeed…)
What is keyword research?
Keyword research is the process of finding the right search terms. This also includes alternate phrases and variations of keywords that users use to search when using the search engines. With keyword research, we also identify keyword competition (how competitive it is to rank for the specific keyword) and ranking opportunities.
Why should I use keyword research?
To reach the audience, your product or service is intended to, you need to learn how they would search for it. You might think that a specific word describes your product. That might be the case for a part of your audience, but not for all That means that you miss out on a big piece of the pie.
By performing keyword research, you can ensure that every possible variation of the keyword that best describes your product or service is placed at your website to capture as many people as possible.
Having a keyword research strategy gives you a competitive advantage. In most cases, whether you belong in a small or a big industry, companies tend to avoid keyword research because it takes time to perform. If you want to win over your competition, researching keywords can help you identify opportunities that they have missed.
Keyword research tools
Due to the increasing demand of SEO and keyword research, companies began to create keyword research tools.
Tools such as SEMrush, Ahrefs, Google’s Webmaster Tools, Google’s Keyword Planner have become a must in a proper keyword research. Keyword research is a process that takes time, but with so many tools at our disposal, we can bring that time down.
How do I find the best keywords to use on my website?
Identifying the perfect keyword(s) takes time and practice. For the most part, if you’re offering a service or a product, you already know how many people are searching for it, and you have already done some sort of market research. You can use that initial research to create a seed keyword that you’ll use to start your research. A seed keyword is the foundation of a keyword research, closely related to our product or service, that we will use in order to start our research and find relevant keywords to target.
Let’s assume that I have a fitness studio, and I want to do a keyword research to drive more organic traffic to my website.
Let’s start by using the free version of SEMrush and inserting the term that better describes our product or service, in this case, “fitness studio”.
The tool reports back some valuable information, such as the search volume and the number of search results that the engine returns. It also returns the CPC (cost per click) and the competition, both will help us understand how competitive it will be to rank for that specific keyword.
Overview of initial dashboard
Initial Keyword Overview Graph
Above we can see the volume of the specific keyword (avg. unique searches per month) the number of results returned by Google. We can also see the CPC or cost per click for the paid ads within Google and the Competition. Even though the competition is below Paid Search it is also a good indicator for the organic search. People that do paid ads, in most cases, do some form of SEO in order to increase their chances of attracting more traffic. On the right the bar graph indicates which countries are most active with their paid ads which gives us an idea of how hard it will be to rank for the selected keyword in a specific region. In the above example it would be harder to rank for “Fitness Studio” in Australia but much easier to rank for the same keyword in India.
Below the initial graph, we have a list of keywords separated into two groups:
- Phrase Match Keywords, which contain a list of keywords containing the keyword that we initiated the search with as an exact match:
- Related Keywords List, which contains other relevant keywords that users use instead of our seed keyword:
Google and other search engines rank a page thematically and semantically, which means that in order for our fitness page to rank, we need to prove that we’re an authority on the subject.
One way to achieve this would be to publish blog articles about fitness-related topics. But search engines also rank semantically, by trying to identify the user intent behind a user query to send them to the right website.
If our keyword research is also based on user intent, we will make Google’s job easier to guide its users, which will in return benefit us by increasing our rankings potential for the specific subject.
To capture as much traffic as possible, you need to use as many related keywords as possible – but in a way that your article will still sound and read naturally.
The competitiveness of a keyword usually refers to the paid advertisement, but it’s a good indicator to understand how many people are trying to target the same keyword. If your website is new and your domain authority is still growing, you shouldn’t pick highly competitive keywords.
Long Tail Keyword vs. Head Terms
We separate keywords in Long Tail Keywords and Head Terms or Head Keywords.
- Head terms are keywords that are usually one to two words with high search volume.
- Long tail keywords are less in volume but larger in number of words.
Long tail keywords are usually in the final stages of a user journey in a search engine and closer to the buying stage. By targeting long tail keywords you ensure that the conversion rate of your organic traffic will increase.
An example of a user journey and the use of long tail keyword could be as followed:
Someone is searching the for shoes using the keyword “shoes”. They make their initial research and move on by changing their initial keyword to something that fits their needs more.
The second query could be “men shoes” where they are only see a refined search of their initial query.
The buyers intent grows, but still the results are high so they refine their initial query more.
The third query could be “leather men shoes” or even “brown leather men shoes”. The results are far less, but the buyers intent is much higher, which makes targeting long tail keywords a great option for increasing your conversion rate.
So, you have your keywords – now what?
Now that you have a selection of keywords there are various ways that you can use them inside your website. Most importantly you need to find the most valuable one for your product or service and make it your main keyword.
By having a main keyword you make sure that you do not lose track of your initial goal it also makes it easier for you to track the progress of your rankings.
I now have a list of fitness studio keywords that I want to rank for which I will separate into subjects if possible for which I will create unique pages.
For example, I offer various classes such as Pilates, Yoga & Zumba by creating different pages for each one of those classes I increase my possibility to rank for those terms.
My Pilates page main keyword in “Pilates Studio” and the list of keywords that I want to rank for consist of five related keywords.
- “Pilates Studio Melbourne”
- “Classical Pilates Studio”
- “Extreme Pilates Studio”
- “Advanced Pilates Studio”
I always use the main keyword within the title so that I can tell the search engines what the page is all about. If I can fit more of my keywords within the title then I do so, but never at the expense of readability for the title – it should still sound natural.
In the following example, I used 3 of my keywords inside the title which is one of the most important on-page ranking factors.
The description below does not count as a ranking factor, but can affect your Click Through Rate so make sure to add your main keyword in it as well.
After you select your title and description, you can repeat the keywords within the contents of your page- from headings to the actual copy. As a rule of use each keyword once or twice inside the copy. Keep in mind that keyword stuffing is penalizable, so you need to be careful with how many time you mention each keyword.
More resources for keyword research:
- How to generate traffic using Long Tail Keywords
- Long-Tail Keywords: A Better Way to Connect with Customers
- How to Do Keyword Research