Are you often dismissing keyword research because you don’t know where to begin? Or have you been bombarded with rumours that keywords are no longer relevant for boosting SEO? If so, it’s time to revamp your perspective of keyword research. Despite keyword strategies changing a lot over the years thanks to Google algorithm updates, keywords are anything but irrelevant. Google updates, competitors, consumers, and the technological world itself are all factors that keep digital marketers on their toes. However, the one thing that does stay relatively consistent is keyword research. In the practice of inbound marketing, content should not solely be created about what you as the business wants to tell people but should be made based on what your audience wants to know. Essentially, the content should be created for the audience. It is because of this that keyword research remains consistent. Simply put, keyword research is the best way to keep track of and respond to the external factors that are constantly shifting and changing with consumer demand. So while regular content, metadata, authoritative links, and a user-friendly site are all staples of effective SEO, keyword research should never be dismissed as the backbone to reaching the audiences you want to reach. With over 68% of online experiences beginning with a search engine, SEO and keywords are undeniably crucial for your marketing efforts. However, because the amount of daily searches exceeds a massive eight and a half billion, keyword research is vital to narrow down what people are searching for in relation to what you offer and how you can get them to come to you.
What is Keyword Research?
Technically and literally speaking, keyword research is the process of finding and analysing search terms that people enter into search engines. The goal is to use this data to understand what keywords will benefit your SEO and marketing efforts. Specifically, the purpose of efficient keyword research is to uncover audiences’ queries to target, the popularity of these searches, their ranking difficulty, and intent. This insight can help inform your content strategy, as well as your larger marketing strategy, by truly getting inside the mind of your audience.
Benefits of keyword research
Besides the in-depth understanding of your target audience, you can gain from adequate keyword research, when put to use, this practice can have additional benefits on your marketing efforts:
- Marketing trend insight: performing keyword research can provide you with an understanding of marketing trends, helping you create content that is relevant to your audience.
- Traffic growth: researching, identifying and using the best fitting keywords will boost your SEO and attract more site traffic.
- Customer acquisition: understanding keywords for their popularity, search volume, and general intent and using them to drive action.
Elements of keyword research
Before we dive into the ultimate keyword research checklist, it’s important to understand what to pay attention to throughout the process.
As keywords live within the Google search engine, it is vital to consider how Google works. Essentially, google ranks all content for relevance. If your content doesn’t align with the intent of the keywords and is not relevant to those searching your chosen keywords, Google will not rank your site highly. With every algorithm update, the search engine becomes more and more advanced. Relevant content means valuable content, and if that is not what you’re providing to your search audience, you cannot expect to find yourself on the first page of the SERPs.
Another element of Google’s algorithm that has been understood is its favour of authoritative sources. If your site is using heavily loaded keywords, keyword stuffing, or using irrelevant backlinks, you won’t be seen in any position of authority. To be considered an authoritative source in the eyes of the search engine, it is essential to enrich your site with helpful information and content that appeals to the searcher.
Even if you end up ranking on the first page of Google for a specific search word, if no one is searching for that keyword, you aren’t going to get any traffic. Search volume is measured by MSV (monthly search volume) and is a way to identify how popular your intended keywords are. Weigh up the search volume with its use to determine whether your site can compete.
Keyword Research Checklist
Now that you have a firm understanding of how keywords work, why they are important, and what factors influence their effectiveness, we can get into the good stuff. Putting your knowledge to use is where things get fun, so allow us to step you through the ultimate list of keyword research tactics to take your SEO efforts to the next level. Ultimately, the goal is to create a strong and reliable keyword strategy that consistently helps you find the search terms you and your audience care about.
Come up with a basic list of relevant topics
It is important to note the distinction between keywords and key topics. Keywords and what people are typing into the search engine, whereas topics are the overarching theme and idea that people are searching for. This is the first step in keyword research as it helps you understand what you want to be known for and what customers you want to attract. When coming up with this list of topics, standard practice is to put yourself in the shoes of your buyer. Tap into your inner drama queen and pretend you’re living in the mind of your customer. For example, if your business specialises in ‘hair care’, think about the variety of audience personas that exist and what type of hair care each individual could be interested in.
Search for related keywords
Now that you have come up with a list of topics that align with your business and your target audience, identify some keywords that fit within these topics. What you’re looking for here are keyword phrases you think would rank well in search engines based on what people are probably searching for. The intent is not to develop a finalised list of keywords but potential phrases to narrow down and influence the keywords specific to your content. If you were the aforementioned hair care business, topics could include “how to fix split ends” or “how often should I wash my hair”. Trying to find long-tail keywords is a great way to find audiences closer to the point of purchase or, using a voice search. Data also shows that 69.7% of search queries contain four or more words, making longer keywords more applicable to customer behaviour.
Understand your current analytics
Understanding your keyword and SEO analytics are the next step up from the basics. Identifying which keywords are bringing traffic to your site is a great way to figure out what keywords you should be focussing on and what your audience wants. There is various software available, like Google Analytics, which are specifically set up to help you understand where your customers are coming from, and what searches they used to get to your site. Creating an audience persona is essential for any marketing success. While there are many tactics to help you do this and learn more about your audience, keyword research can provide additional insight into their online activity, demand, and intent.
Analyse keyword intent
Now that you have come up with the basics and understood where your audience lies in the relation to your business and their personal demands; it is time to analyse the intent. Words are powerful tools, but they cannot always be taken at face value. It is important to consider that words can have many different meanings.Even if keywords are popular and relevant to your content, you need to ensure they are relevant in the same way to the audience. The best way to verify a user's intent when they use a keyword is by entering this keyword into a search engine and analysing the results. If the content that appears closely relates to what you intend to share with this keyword, you’re on the right track. If not, the intent may not be aligned, and it could be beneficial to choose a different keyword. Making sure your content aligns with what users are looking for when searching for particular keywords is extremely important when considering the element of ‘relevancy’ previously mentioned. User intent is one of the most pivotal factors in your SEO efforts. According to Google’s algorithm, it's more important that your content addresses the searcher's problem rather than simply containing the keyword they used.
Research related search terms
As an additional method to help understand your keywords and audience, you can take a look at the related search terms found at the bottom of a Google search page. This is a great tactic to include if you find it difficult to come up with more keywords people may be searching about your specific topic. These suggestions can inspire other keyword ideas you may want to consider and proceed to perform the same keyword research methods as outlined in the previous steps.
Understand your competition
Identifying who your competition is, how they are performing, and why can be extremely helpful when trying to boost SEO. Software such as Semrush allows you to compare your site directly against your competitors so you can easily identify your strengths and weaknesses. A good practice is to gather your highest-ranking competitor keywords and regularly track these. Understanding how your competitors are performing is valuable and can even enable to you find out what keywords they are not using so you can beat them to it. It is important to note that any successful company is likely following these same steps, so you must continue the keyword research upkeep and analysis to compete and rank.
With the modern google algorithm, a content strategy that doesn’t exhibit a clear keyword research strategy is not likely to perform optimally. Keyword stuffing is just one example of black hat marketing, guaranteed to penalise your other well-intended marketing efforts.Rather than focusing on popularity and clicks, focus on user engagement. Allow the keywords to inspire your content based on topics people are generally interested in and searching for. Regularly performing keyword research as outlined in this checklist can help you identify and sort your content into topics on which you want to create content. You can then use these topics to dictate which keywords you look and target for, and ultimately, reach the audiences you want to reach and that want to reach you. The dynamic nature of the digital world means it can be extremely difficult to navigate and keep up with. The team at Anchor Digital specialises in staying up to date with everything from the mundane to the marvellous when it comes to the technological world. Contact us today for more guidance and information regarding SEO success.