Keyword research is possibly the most critical part of SEO. You can’t execute a marketing strategy unless you know whom you’re targeting. Also, it’s impossible to estimate costs and returns from SEO unless you know your competitors.
This post aims to approach technical aspects like identifying the phrases used when people search for information and finding the search volume or relative efficiency of used terms.
A proper keyword research can provide a road map for both designing and execution of website building and content development. Hers is how you can research the keywords and organize those into an action plan for your website.
Step 1: Make a list of important and relevant topics based on your business knowledge.
You can start the process by thinking about the topics you want to rank for in terms of generic buckets. Try and list at least 5 topic buckets you find important to your business, and use those buckets to generate specific keywords later.
These can be probably the topics you blog about most frequently or perhaps which come up in most sales conversations. Think what topics your target audience can search for and what you would want your business to get found for.
For example; a company that sells marketing software, must have topic buckets like “Inbound Marketing”, “Marketing Analytics”, “Email Marketing”, “SEO”, “Lead Generation”, “Marketing Automation”, “Blogging” and :”Social Media”.
Step 2: Identify keywords related to your chosen topic.
When you have some topic buckets to focus on, it’s time to find some keywords that suitably fall into those buckets. These keyword are specific terms to rank for in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
For instance, if we take one keyword as listed above “Marketing Automation”, the related phrases would be:
- What Is Marketing Automation?
- How To Use Marketing Automation Software
- Nurturing Leads For Marketing Automation
- Email Marketing Automation Apps
- Most Popular Marketing Automation Tools
With more keywords getting encrypted by Google every day, another smart way to come up with phrase ideas is to find out the keywords your website is already getting found for.
You can use some website analytics tool and drill down into your traffic sources to identify the keywords people use to arrive at your website. You can repeat this process for as many topic buckets as you have.
Step 3: Research significant search terms.
If you find it tough to think of more keywords people could use to search a specific topic, go to Google and have a look at the suggested search terms when you type in a keyword.
When the search results are displayed, you can scroll to the bottom of the page and see some suggestions for searches related to your original input. These suggestions could be the ideas for other keywords you can take into consideration.
Step 4: Form a mix of head terms and long-tail keywords on each topic.
Let me first explain the difference between head terms and long-tail keywords.
Head terms are keywords which are generally shorter and more generic, usually up to three words in length. On the other hand, Long-Tail keywords are longer phrases containing at least three or more words.
Having a combination of head terms and long-tail terms gives you a balanced keyword strategy for long-term goals and short-term wins.
While head terms generally attract bigger volume, the traffic you get from a long-tail keyword, is usually more desirable.
Step 5: Observe how your competitors are ranking those keywords.
Just because your competitor is doing something doesn’t mean you have to do the same. If it is important to your competitor; not necessarily, it will be equally important to you.
However, if you can explore what keywords your competitors are trying to rank for, it could be a great way to help you give your chosen keywords another evaluation.
If your competitor is ranking for same keywords like yours, it makes sense to improve your ranking for those however; working on keywords your competitors don’t care about, could be an opportunity to own market share on key terms.
Step 6: Use an efficient keywords app / planner to shorten your list.
When you are ready with the right mix of keywords, it’s time to narrow down your list with more quantitative data. You can flag terms that have too little or too much search volume, and don’t maintain a healthy mix.
Yet before you delete any keyword, check out its history and projections in Google Trends. You can see if such terms are actually something you should invest in now and use the benefits later.
Google Trends can help you determine which terms are trending upward, and are thus worth more of your focus.
Congratulation! You are done!
You finally have a list of keywords to help you focus on the right topics for your business; and get you both short-term and long-term profits. You can now organize keywords and find terms to focus on for different pages of your website.
Make sure you re-evaluate those keywords, at least once a quarter. You can add more keywords to your lists while you work on maintaining your current presence, and then growing in new areas.