When trying to succeed with a website and maximize its visibility, good search engine optimization (SEO) is essential. Although many elements affect SEO today, with Google no longer allowing sites to easily rank through old blackhat practices like keyword stuffing, it’s still just as important as ever to target the right keywords.
Keyword research remains a powerful tool that can help your website dominate search engines. However, you must go about this process the right way and find the best keyword opportunities to make your efforts worthwhile. In this guide to keyword research, you’ll learn about the importance of this step in the SEO process and how to take the right approach to your research.
What Is Keyword Research and Why Is It Necessary?
Keyword research entails finding the most valuable keywords that target audiences are likely to enter into Google and other search engines. These keywords include search queries with different intent behind them, depending on whether someone is looking for information or in the market for a product or service.
Keyword research is so crucial because it ensures you’re creating webpages that will actually generate traffic. Otherwise, you might not cover the topics that people are actively searching for in search engines, leaving your website in the dark.
Steps for Conducting Keyword Research
When developing your keyword research strategy, there are some key steps to take that will help you guide your webpages in the right direction. The following are some ways to go about performing keyword research for your next SEO campaign:
1. Find Your Seed Keywords
The first step you’ll want to take is to define some seed keywords to start off your strategy. You can begin here by thinking about your specific niche; what kinds of offerings does your business have and what relevant topics would you want to cover around those offerings?
For example, if your niche is marketing, you might target a lot of relevant marketing terms and topics, such as:
- Digital marketing
- Offline marketing
- Content marketing
- Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising
These seed keywords are often broader terms that can help you find more specific long-tail keywords that are easier to rank for in search engines. Over time, you might be able to rank for both broad short-tail and longer short-tail terms, but those seed terms are often highly competitive.
2. Properly Assess Keywords
When conducting keyword research, you must also know how to analyze all keywords to identify the best opportunities for your website. Once you generate a raw list of relevant keywords within your niche, you can begin breaking them down according to:
- Search Volume — One of the main items that will factor into keyword selection is search volume. How many monthly searches do your target keywords attract? The best terms to target are those with a high volume and lower difficulty, but you can also do well by dominating the less competitive terms with lower volume. Even if a keyword doesn’t appear to have any search volume, you might benefit from targeting this low-hanging fruit to get ahead of competitors.
- User Intent — Another element to think about is the search intent behind each keyword. People will enter different terms based on what they want to achieve with their searches. For instance, people might enter broader terms or questions when initially learning about a certain topic at the beginning of the buyer’s journey. They may then begin looking for the best products or services, entering middle-of-funnel terms like “best _____ for me” or best _______ company near me.” Finally, they’ll often enter branded terms and other bottom-of-funnel terms when they’re ready to make a purchase.
- Keyword Difficulty — As mentioned when talking about search volume, keyword difficulty is another consideration to keep in mind. This refers to the level of competition you’re likely to face when targeting a certain term. If keyword difficulty is “high” or has a high number attached to it, you’ll have a difficult time ranking for this term over more established competitors. Meanwhile, keywords with “medium” or “low” difficulty and lower numbers will be easier to rank for as a new business.
These are a few of the main aspects to think about and analyze as you do your keyword research. The right tools (which we’ll discuss below) will help you with keyword assessment.
3. Take a Look at Competitors
One helpful step to take is to see what kinds of keywords your competitors are targeting. Using the list of seed keywords you want to target in your niche, you can find competitors based on who’s ranking for those terms.
If you manage to find a competitor that sells the same types of products and services, you can use a keyword tool such as Ahref’s Site Explorer to see this company’s current rankings and the pages that rank for the terms you want to pursue. You can then take these competitors’ cues to guide your optimization strategy.
4. Use the Right Tools
To get the ideal results from your campaigns and meet your goals, you must use the right keyword research tools. There are many options to choose from, including various free tools you can use to, at the very least, launch your research.
A couple of the most popular tools you can use include Google’s Keyword Planner and Answer the Public. Of course, if you have a budget set aside for SEO, it’s also worth investing in a paid keyword research tool such as Semrush and Ahrefs.
Get Help With Keyword Research from Trusted Experts
This beginner’s guide may help you get started with keyword research, but you may not have the time or resources needed to develop a winning strategy that helps you reach the top of search engines. If you need some assistance with keyword research and other aspects of your SEO strategies, the professionals at Kore Media are here to help.
We offer a host of digital marketing services that can get your business off the ground, whether you require help with SEO, PPC advertising, web development and design, or other services such as social media marketing and blogging. Contact us today to discover what we can do to help fuel your company’s long-term online growth.