If you’ve been in SEO (search engine optimization) long, you have undoubtedly heard the phrase “Content is King.” In many ways this is absolutely true; fresh, quality content that appears regularly is essential to a good marketing strategy. Without it, clients are likely belly up in the water.
But content didn’t become king on its own.
Rather, content is better described as the protege of keyword research. Because without a strong keyword research component, both content marketing and web page creation may not produce the desired results. Keyword research is important for exposing content gaps and opportunities for site owners. Furthermore, quality keyword research can drive improvement in search result rankings and visibility to web consumers of the site owner’s product. For this reason, learning how to do keyword research is critical, and it is not as easy as you would think!
Drill down the basics
Keyword research can be defined as the process of identifying terms and phrases people enter into search engines to find information they are looking for on relevant web pages. Ultimately it is a SEO tool for determining how consumers are connecting with a client’s products and how to improve the experience. It can also be used to identify which words or phrases are important in getting consumers to the site and if they align with the client’s long-term goals.
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Keywords are important across every piece of content on the website because individual pages, rather than the entire site,are ranked for their keywords in the search results page. In the SEO world,there are number of different types of keywords that can be used throughout each page:
- Head keywords, which are a single word.Because of the numerous different reasons a consumer may type a single word into a search engine, these keywords are often highly competitive and have a low conversion rate. For example, if you type “dog” into your search engine,are you looking for a specific dog breed, veterinary information, or who ate the most hot dogs at this year’s hot dog eating competition?
- Body keywords, are 2-3 words. They generally narrow down the consumer intent and content is more likely to be more easily linked to what they are searching for. For instance typing “hot dog eating”will rule out any results related to pet dogs. This makes body keywords moderately competitive with a mid-level conversion rate.
- Long-tail keywords, are longer phrases that get to the heart of what the consumer is looking for such as “hot dog eating contest results 2018.” Content is easily aligned to consumer desires, giving these keywords a much higher conversion rate and client’s achieving a high ranking is less difficult. An estimated 70 percent of web page traffic is generated by long-tail keywords.
Often times the goals of keyword research can be confusing. Ultimately, the goal is an increase in sales, not simply an improvement in traffic to a website.
Find the right keywords
There are many thousands of variations in keywords that can exist and individual web pages can rank for each one. Keeping client intent in line with consumer intent when it comes keywords is an added test to keep in mind. This is part of what makes keyword research so challenging.
The consumer intent basically takes into account the reasons why a specific search query is conducted and what the end goals are. Aligning the intent behind visits to a client’s website and the intent of the visited web page can greatly influence ranking in organic searches. Search engines are improving the way they interpret searches and user intent, which means matching client intent has never been more important.
Other aspects to finding the right keywords to focus on include search volume and keyword difficulty. Search volume is a metric that basically summarizes the potential volume of traffic to a web page a keyword could generate in a given time period. It can help focus marketing strategies. Keyword difficulty takes into account how competitive a keyword is and how difficult it would be to improve a client’s ranking.
Dive into keyword research
With the metrics necessary to find the right keywords, it is time to dive into the meat of it and do some research to evaluate keyword rankings and build a marketing strategy.
First thing is first, develop a list of seed words. These seed words are simply a list of keywords and phrases that are likely to be relevant to the website and business. They include keywords that the business is already ranking for, as well as new ones that will be targets for improvement. Compiling a list of terms can be done a number of ways such as by:
- Brainstorming all terms directly associated with the product or service
- Considering consumer intent
- Evaluating additional search terms using a search engine
- Analyzing competitor keywords
- Researching niche topics for additional keywords and phrases
Next, work into keyword grouping or clustering by evaluating the actual opportunity associated with each one and grouping high, medium, and low opportunity words together. Going even further, divide these opportunities into those that align with business goals and lowest research investment costs. Finally, cluster similar keywords and work to increase the market share of all variations of the same word or phrase.
To build client understanding and buy-in, the next step is to generate a report that will help to communicate the findings of keyword research. Reporting will provide a clear methodology to the process and a concrete list of keywords, goals, and incremental improvements made over the up coming months. This step can also help to further align company goals with the associated SEO work.
There are a number of tools out there that can help the process of doing keyword research and help to capitalize on keyword opportunities for clients. Ultimately,keyword research is not as simple as it first appears. Getting it right takes a substantial amount of in-depth client research and creative thinking.
As you dive into keyword research, remember that there are a variety of different types of keywords that each play a role in building a client’s search ranking. Numerous metrics go into finding the right keywords, which is a first step in developing a seed list of words. This list can then be prioritized and clustered to develop the most useful content strategies and gain maximum benefit for the client.