“Keyword” is one of the buzzwords in the world of SEO. Hang around the web long enough, and you’ll hear SEO specialists raving about what keywords they should use and keyword research for SEO. But, what is keyword research exactly, and why is it a crucial part of SEO?
Stay tuned because we’re about to dive into keyword research – the pillar of SEO, explaining what it is, why you need it, and how to both discover and pick the best keywords for your website to create a bullet-proof SEO strategy.
Keyword research is a crucial part of Search Engine Optimization. Simply put, keyword research involves discovering popular words and phrases regular people enter into search engines daily. It aims to answer questions like what search terms people type into Google when looking for a particular product, service, business, or information, how often, and what they expect to find.
Words alone aren’t powerful. The right words are. The ultimate goal of keyword research is to find the best keyword opportunities for a website to strategically create and optimize a valuable piece of content around those words and phrases. So, how do you find the right words? You guessed it— by understanding what keyword research for SEO is all about.
The internet is a highly competitive space, and if you want to be successful, you need to stand out from the crowd. Choose the right words, and you’ll receive traffic, customers, revenue, authority – everything you need to be a success. Choose the wrong words, and you’ll be forever clamoring for digital attention.
To put it in perspective, let’s say you have a shoe company. When someone types “shoes” on Google search, they’ll get around 8,730,000,000 search results! We don’t want to sound like skeptics, but you’ll probably agree that it seems that this particular keyword might be a little too overflowing. So, what do you do? How can you cut through all the noise?
Enter the power of keywords! SEO professionals research keywords to get a better understanding of what search terms your target audience uses and how high the demand for a particular keyword is. In other words, it helps them determine how tough the competition is. Then, they start creating content around that keyword to produce high-quality, discoverable content that ranks and attracts high-quality organic traffic.
If this concept is still a little confusing, that’s alright because we have a whole article ahead of us to discuss this process in detail! So, let’s jump right into keyword research for SEO.
In the introduction, we scratched the surface and briefly explained the concept of keyword research, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg – it’s time to dig deeper. Keyword research is crucial for SEO because apart from it being the “thing” you create your content strategy around, it is also the starting point of any SEO campaign.
In other words, keywords are like a compass – they point you in the right direction. Keyword research is basically the modern equivalent of market research. But how does an SEO specialist conduct keyword research for SEO? Keyword research is both science and art – it involves using various tools at your disposal but also understanding your potential customers and predicting which terms they’re actually typing into search bars.
There are several SEO-savvy keyword research tactics that you can use (in no particular order):
To use the previous example, let’s say you own a shoe company you want to become recognized widely. You can do that by creating quality content around keywords that will rank and drive organic traffic. But where do you even start?
You can come up with specific keyword ideas by brainstorming through different topics and seed keywords you can sprout further later on. How? It’s quite simple – you just have to ask yourself what topics related to your business would your target customers be interested in. Then, you can come up with a list of topic ideas, such as:
Now, remember these are still not your keywords but topics that can help you develop specific keywords to target.
Now, you can begin with more detailed and goal-oriented keyword research for SEO. You can Google search some of these topics (we chose the first example), and Google will immediately suggest you the most searched keywords you can add to your potential keyword list. It can provide you with numerous variations of your keywords or keyphrases, synonyms, and related keywords.
The same rule goes for YouTube suggest. With YouTube suggestions, you can broaden your potential keyword list and identify search trends.
Related searches are a fantastic way to come up with even more keywords. Believe it or not, scrolling to the bottom of the Google page can sometimes actually be helpful – it’s where you’ll find searches “related to” + your keyword. From there, you can click on another keyword related to your initial search, which is going to take you to another page with even more related keywords. You can repeat this process several times.
Another useful keyword research tip is using the “people also ask” section in Google search results. It can help you discover other related questions and search suggestions and, thus, serve as great inspiration for long-tail and question-type keywords.
Another cool way you can come up with some amazing keywords is Reddit – the place where your potential customers probably hang out. Focusing on what your audience wants and then honing that keyword data will make for much more successful SEO campaigns than focusing on random keywords, making Reddit a true gem when it comes to keyword research and ideas.
You can, for example, search Reddit for “women’s shoes,” and you’ll land a bunch of topics related to this keyword, which can help you gain user insight and come up with more exact keywords and other related keyword variations.
Wikipedia is another goldmine for finding effective keywords! It’s a great source of keyword ideas. Here’s how to use Wikipedia as a keyword generator:
First, go to Wikipedia and search for a term (we will stick to shoes and shoe-related topics). Then, you will see a table of contents that can inspire you to generate more related keywords.
From there, you will come across even more specific terms that can lead you to another page.
The above-mentioned strategies are more or less “manual” types of keyword research for SEO. However, there are plenty of tools you can use to identify keyword trends and automate this process to a certain extent.
Here’s a list of some of the best keyword research tools you can use:
Keyword research for SEO seeks to offer and provide communication on the market. It will help you discover what people search for in different places. Don’t limit your keyword research process – use various techniques and methods for optimum impact:
Your ultimate goal is to gather as many popular keywords as you can to be able to create blog posts and other content that is going to be not only interesting but also useful and valuable to your potential audience and customers and rank high. Keyword research for SEO can actually be pretty fun if you think about it. It’s like creating valuable content for a friend.
By using all of these different strategies for discovering and gathering relevant keywords, you’ll get a deeper understanding of your customers. You’ll get to know what they are interested in, what bothers them, what they like, what they don’t like, what they are looking for, need help with, and so on. Then, you can provide them with the optimal solution.
Brainstorming topic and keyword ideas is half the battle. After you’ve done your diligent keyword research, you’ll need to tap into metrics and data. The keyword difficulty level in keyword research for SEO refers to the competitiveness of certain keywords. What does this mean?
If you choose a super competitive keyword like, for example, “shoes”, you’ll have trouble reaching the top of Google’s result page. The key to getting to the first page of Google is choosing keywords that are widely searched for (have a high monthly search volume) but don’t have a lot of competition (low ranking difficulty).
Long-tail keywords are longer and more specific keyword phrases that visitors are more likely to use when they’re closer to the point of purchase. If you are a new company, this is especially important as long-tail keywords can help you rank better because the competition is not as tough for short keyword phrases.
The difference between short keywords and long-tail keywords is in detail. For example, when typing “truck” into the search bar, you’ll get various information and content on trucks in general. If you type “Ram 1500 Crew Cab 2012”, you’ll get the information or offers related to this exact truck model. It’s what makes long-tail keywords highly targeted search terms packed with clear intent. That’s why ranking for “shoes” will be more difficult and less profitable than perhaps “white women’s shoes.”
Long-tail terms have a lower search volume and get less search traffic. However, that also means there’s less competition around them, making it easier to rank on those keywords. Hence, they offer a greater possibility for your website to be on top and get more visits from potential customers as they focus on a more specific product or topic.
Search volume has been a vital keyword metric from the earliest days of SEO – it represents how many searches are made for a given keyword or set of keywords. Long-tail keywords can go against you if you try to rank for too many long-tail searches with a minimum volume.
When conducting keyword research for SEO, you should also include keywords that are high in search volume and have greater relevance. You can find search volume data in all the keyword tools we provided earlier to help you determine how competitive a specific keyword is and strike a good balance.
Even if your goal isn’t nailing organic searches but pay-per-click ads, keyword research is also essential. The key to a successful PPC campaign is choosing keywords most likely to result in clicks and conversions to bid on through the Google Ads pay-per-click (PPC) system (formerly Google Adwords). The paid ads help you be more cost-efficient since you will only pay for successful clicks. It’s also an excellent solution for checking the performance of your campaigns.
With PPC, you can access specific user demographic data and keywords that will improve your SEO strategy. Achieving high organic rankings (not paid) is essential to making your content visible to users and search engines. Still, PPC can be of great help in the beginning when or when you want to boost something specific.
Understanding what users are looking for is a crucial step to keyword research for SEO, which is often overlooked. If you provide irrelevant information for a set of keywords unnatural to your field of work, Google will take note. Most of the attention should be aimed at high-intent searches because this is where value is hidden.
You should know where people are in the conversion funnel and their overall search purpose to satisfy user intent. Types of search intent (user intent) are:
The words your potential customers use in their search queries can give you a hint about their user intent. Then, simply find high-intent keywords relevant to your niche.
Although keyword research tools are very helpful and can provide valuable data, they lack the human touch – they can’t do the thinking part for you. And after all, it’s the thought that counts. Rather than just working with arbitrary terms with the highest search volumes, there should be some deeper thought and understanding behind your keyword research.
Users aren’t just searching for your keywords – their thought processes, and consequently, searches are far more complex. Taking time to consider the user intent behind searches allows you to better understand what users are looking for and how far along their customer journey they are, and in turn, select a more intelligent and thought-out list of keywords to optimize content with.
You can improve your keyword strategy by discovering, then leveraging all relevant keywords to create valuable content for your website or ads. Doing the pre-research keyword analysis and regularly updating content with trending, high-volume keywords should be part of regular maintenance.
Here are some suggestions and tips that will help you continuously improve your keyword strategy:
When the influence and popularity of your competitors’ websites are evident, you may want to look into what helped them get to such a prestigious virtual place. Whatever your niche, competition will always be present, and if you want to rank as high as them on Google and win over their customer and audience pool, you’ll need to do a few things. You can try:
Although investigating the metrics of your keywords might seem complicated, it’s crucial information that you need to improve your ranking and traffic – it’s the data that should inform your decision when choosing your target keywords. Some of the key metrics you should analyze for successful keyword research are:
Digital marketing is constantly evolving and will continue to do so. For your business to become or stay successful, you must put in a little effort. Keyword research for SEO will not only ultimately bring valuable traffic and potential customers right at your fingertips, but getting to know your audience and creating valuable content for them can also be a fun experience.
Finding the right keywords to rank for isn’t always a walk in the park but can be mastered with patience and dedication, using SEO best practices and leveraging various useful keyword research tools available. Keep in mind that keyword research also goes hand in hand with the latest digital marketing trends and is not a one-time thing – repeating the process regularly is necessary to keep your SEO up-to-date!
We hope that this in-depth keyword research guide for SEO will serve as a good base ground and encourage you to start researching the best keywords for your niche that will take you to the very top of SERPS and, eventually, digital success.
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