Mastering SEO is one of the most important skills you can acquire. It doesn’t matter if you are a professional marketer or an aspiring online entrepreneur, learning SEO is crucial.
You will reap immeasurable rewards just by understanding and implementing the basics. As you are well aware, keyword research is the basis for any SEO writing strategy, so start there.
Here is a simple guide for keyword research that will help you get started in the right path to search engine optimization.
WHY IS KEYWORD RESEARCH IMPORTANT?
Keywords are the lifeblood of SEO. They are like tracks that the search engines use when scouring the billions of pages on the internet. They are necessary so that search engines can better understand, categorize, and index your content.
Every search starts with a query that is basically a string of words. You have to understand the keywords for these following reasons:
- You will know what the users are searching for
- How many people have a certain query
- Understanding keywords will immensely improve your on-page SEO
- You will understand the format of the content people want
UNDERSTANDING THE USER INTENT BEHIND THE SEARCH QUERY
Taking the time and effort to better understand your audience will prove invaluable in the long run. Understand who they are, what they are looking for, and why and you will always be one step ahead when it comes to producing valuable content.
This is a mistake many SEO beginners make. They treat the data as only numbers, forgetting that search volume of 500 per day means that there are 500 people on the Internet who have typed that query in the search box.
That is 500 potential customers.
If you take the time to understand them and their psychological profile, you will know how to communicate with them.
You will know how to create and maintain a relationship with them through the content that you produce.
Ask questions like:
- What does the customer want?
- What pain points do they have?
- What problem is he trying to solve?
By asking these and other more detailed questions you will create a profile of the customer inside of your mind. That way it will be easier for you to create a unique voice that will speak directly to the consumer.
You will sound more personable and relatable. Your audience will truly feel as though you’re speaking directly to them.
HOW TO DO KEYWORD RESEARCH
As in every business, the best way to ensure consistent quality is to create processes that will streamline the entire process.
Keyword research is the same. You should implement a system that will give you reliable and consistent results.
You should play with it in the beginning, tweak it and optimize it.
Here is an example os such a process
1. START WITH SEED KEYWORDS
Seed keywords are the starting point of your keyword research journey and serve as a foundation block to be expanded upon.
If you already have a business than coming up with keywords that define your niche shouldn’t be too hard.
For example, if you’re selling telescopes online you can think of these keywords:
- Beginner telescopes
- Telescope lenses
- Best telescopes etc
It’s easy to expand upon them later on.
The next step is to choose one of the many available keyword research tools. The most popular ones are:
Simply type in your seed keywords and the programs will present you with additional searches related. Depending pon the platform you will see search volume, cost per click, the difficulty of ranking, etc.
2. TARGET LONG-TAIL KEYWORDS
If you’re a beginner you may get tempted into trying to rank for keywords with high volume.
Don’t do it.
It will be a waste of your time and will produce no results.
Don’t get discouraged though. The reason why you shouldn’t target keywords with high search volume is the competition.
If you want to find out who ranks #1 for a particular keyword, just type it in Google.
If you run into a behemoth like Wikipedia or Multimillion-dollar businesses it’s best to move on.
They have spent thousands upon thousands of dollars to ensure that they rank #1 for that particular keyword. It would take you years to even come near them.
So, what’s the solution?
Target long-tail keywords. What are long-tail keywords?
If you’re not familiar with the term, it comes from the fact that the search volume graph has a fat head, chunky middle and long tail.
Meaning, about 18% of all search traffic is generated by about 10k keywords, followed by a 12% volume comprised of keywords that have a mostly search volume from 100 to 1000 queries and finally the rest, 70% is comprised of keywords that have a search volume less than 100 per month.
Do not underestimate the compound effect of long-tail keywords in the long run. Those numbers add up over time.
You will have a much easier time to rank for a keyword if the competition is weak and the search volume is low. Target those keywords first and then slowly build your way to the top.
3. ANALYZE YOUR COMPETITION’S STRATEGY
So, you’ve compiled a lengthy list of long-tail keywords that you’re looking to rank for. But, how should you decide which ones to tackle first?
The best way to go about it is to analyze how your competition ranks for specific keywords. Are they also targeting them? If so, can you create better content that will blow them out of the water?
On the other hand, you may target the keywords your competition is currently not ranking for.
That way you will cash out on their missed opportunities.
In one way you are taking the customers they already have, in the other, you are attracting customers they could have had.
4. UNDERSTAND THE TYPE OF INTENT BEHIND A CERTAIN SEARCH QUERY
Google tries to calculate and determine the intent behind every search query. They have attributed search types these intents in their Quality Rater Guidelines as:
- Finding a website
There are plenty of categories of intent listed by Google but the most important ones are:
- Informational – The user wants to have a quick answer on a specific question like “How tall is Tom Cruise”?
- Navigational – The user wants to visit a specific website
- Transactional – The user wants to buy something on the internet, listen to a podcast or watch a video
- Commercial investigation – The user is looking to buy but wants to make a comparison and find the best product
- Local query – The user wants to visit the nearest dentist, chiropractor or visit a local Italian restaurant
5. CREATE ADDITIONAL CONTENT CENTERED ON RELATED KEYWORDS
So, you have your pool of long-tail keywords that you want to rank for. You have created content centered around them and now what?
Don’t stop there. Create additional content that revolves around synonyms and related keywords. That way you are casting a wider net for people who are basically looking for the same thing.
Not to mention that way you will have an opportunity to create internal links that will serve as a glue for your website’s content.
UNDERSTAND KEYWORD METRICS
When you type in a query in a keyword research tool of your choice you will be presented by a sea of data. How to understand any of them?
While the metrics differ wildly from tool to tool, they mostly encompass the same parameters.
Here are the most important parameters you should understand if you want to make the most of it:
- Search volume – That number represents the number of people who are searching that exact query
- CPC – or cost-per-click, it tells you how much money marketers are willing to pay each time a user licks on the ad related to that query. It will tell you about the potential commercial value of that keyword
- Keyword trend graph – You will understand if the keyword is seasonal or not. For example “sunglasses” are mostly searched during the spring and summer
- Keyword difficulty – How it is calculated and their score differs depending on the tool. In its essence though that number is a combination of page authority and domain authority
The best way to understand keywords is to take the time to play around different keyword research tools. We have only scraped the surface of this topic, but even with this knowledge, you are still ahead of 90% of marketers on the Internet.