What is keyword research & why is it so important?

keyword research yields positive results
12Jan, 2022

When it comes to SEO or other forms of Digital Marketing you have probably heard countless times about the significance of robust keyword analysis. You often hear “keyword research is the most important first step in any SEO or Marketing Strategy”

What is a Keyword?  

People sometimes get mistaken between a search query and a keyword. A search query is what a user types into a search engine, meanwhile a keyword is the text on a website that matches the search query. Not only does a keyword tell the user that a web page contains what they are looking for it also signals to search engines (crawlers) about relevance of that web page’s content. 

Keyword Research

Keyword Research is the process of collecting all search terms your potential customers may use to find your products or services and analysing them against a variety of parameters which we will discuss in more detail as we go along.

keyword research yields positive results
What is keyword research? & why it is very important

Why are Keywords so Important? 

  • Optimised keywords will increase the visibility of a website in search
  • Fill the site with relevant & search optimised content
  • Can help plan an effective website structure
  • Create a viable SEO/Marketing strategy
  • Better understand the needs of your target audience
  • Generate more traffic & attract new leads 

How to conduct a thorough Keyword Research  

There are various ways to conduct effective keyword research, using a plethora of tools available some free and some paid but we will discuss the fundamentals of keyword research regardless of whether it’s an established website or a new one. 

1.       ESTABLISH SEED KEYWORDS: Also known as head or primary keywords normally 1-2 words, refer to your products, services, or articles your content is based on, for example if you have an eCommerce golf store your seed keywords might be: – clubs, golf balls, putters, golf shoes etc.

2.       EXPAND ON SEED KEYWORD: Not everyone looking for your products & services will use the exact search terms; you want to find as many variations to your seed words as possible to give you more visibility in search results. 

  • Input your target query into Google search & explore related queries for example that e-commerce golf store when they type in ‘golf shoes’ in the search bar a lot of variations from that seed keyword will be suggested terms such as “golf shoes for women”, “spike-less golf shoes”, “golf shoes for kids” plus many more. If these suggestions are relevant to your website add them to your keyword list as it shows what search terms users are using to search for your products or services. At the bottom of this page, you will find some more Google keyword suggestions under the heading “People also searched for” which can be very useful. 
  • For existing websites, the use of the Google Search Console (not for new websites) allows you to find out how users discover your website. Click on Performance and scroll down to Top Queries and you’ll find all the search terms users have typed into Google search to find your website. Add these keywords if they aren’t already on your list, so you can optimise them in your website’s content.
  • Google Keyword Planner is another useful tool and it’s free to a certain extent. It can give you variations of your seed keywords and related search terms but limits the real juicy data for those running Google Ads. As a starting point you can gather a lot of similar search terms you might not have thought about initially, so it’s worth it even if you’re not running Google Ads

Below is an example of Seed Keyword expansion using Google Search for “golf shoes”

seed keyword expansion using goolge search
Seed Keyword Expansion using Google Search

3.       USE SEO TOOLS: There are many tools available to leverage data on the keywords you have gathered. Platforms such as Ahrefs, SEMrush, Moz are great tools when it comes to keyword research. Our favourite is SE Ranking because it is not as costly and delivers just the same, including an easy-to-use interface and hundreds of helpful reports to help with your efforts. These SEO tools are great for: 

i)                    Competitor Analysis: Gathering reports showing which keywords your competitors are ranking for and which ones they are not doing well on. This allows you to optimise them on your site which benefits your website because you want to embrace every potential helpful keyword. However, you need to be prepared to put effort into optimising that keyword if you want to rank it higher than the competition. 

ii)                   Keyword Analysis: Having a keyword on your list is not enough; understanding how you can use that keyword is paramount to keyword research SEO tools can give you more insight into such parameters like Search Volume, Keyword Difficulty & Cost for those running paid ads (explained further below). 

4.       KEYWORD SEGMENTATION: Now that you have your keyword list, the next step you want to do is cluster your keywords by search intent. As mentioned earlier search intent is split into 3 main categories, Informational, Navigational & Transactional. Once that’s done you can further segment the keywords in these 3 groups by Search Volume: 

High Search Volume: Difficult for a new website to rank for these as these are usually seed keywords or head words with only one or two words. Search engines tend to favour big established brands in SERP when it comes to the search terms. 

Medium Search Volume: These tend be variations of seed keywords but if optimised on your website, these can be helpful, in not only impressions, but also bringing traffic in as well. 

Low Search Volume: These could be helpful for a niche market with very few searches. Depending on your website this could be very helpful. They tend to be long-tail keywords 4 or more-word phrases, that might have a low search volume but tend to have specific search intent (Transactional).  

Cost: For those running paid ads, SEO tools will also tell you average Cost Per Click (CPC) so choosing which keywords you use in your campaign can be heavily influenced by this metric, as it can easily affect your campaign budget. 

How to implement your Keyword list 

Now that you have segmented your keyword list you need to make sure all the words are relevant to your products and services. Targeting keywords that are not relevant to your website can be harmful for SEO, as search engines will only rank those pages that align with the user’s search query and most importantly user’s search intent. 

There are many ways to implement your keywords into the content of website, but a starting point is: –

i)                    High Search Volume keywords can be used for home page

ii)                   Medium Search Volume keywords for category pages

iii)                 Low Search Volume Keywords for product pages 

Make sure you have optimised page titles and descriptions with keywords. 

A very well researched keyword list is the base starting for any Content Marketing or executing and effective Content Strategy

Put keywords into all your images’ alt text, so they can show up in image results on SERP. 

Don’t overdo it (keyword stuffing/cannibalisation). Putting too many keywords with different search intent may hurt your visibility as search engines won’t be able to discern which content to rank higher, choose your keywords carefully for your content and optimise it, putting too many similar keywords on the same page or content will not accelerate your ranking on SERPs. 

Track the performance of your keywords using as many tools as possible available at your disposal. Google Analytics is a free tool and has excellent reports to show you which words users use to reach your site. Aligned with Search Console and if you have in-built analytics with your website provider take advantage of those free insights. If the budget allows, you can also leverage data from a paid SEO tool like the ones mentioned earlier, there are so many that will offer a free trial period so you can choose the one that best suits your needs after trying out a few. 

There’s no perfect number of keywords, an eCommerce store selling 1000’s of products might have a list that runs into the hundreds of thousands, whereas a website selling niche goods or service might only target a handful of keywords. It’s not the number that counts but rather the collective potential of the keywords. 

MORE KEYWORDS=MORE IMPRESSIONS=MORE TRAFFIC

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