Search engine optimization (SEO) is at the core of every business’s marketing strategy because of how it brings big winds through small changes over time. And at the center of SEO are keywords that function as the fuel to the engine that drives the whole strategy.
You may be wondering, “How does this influence business growth?”, “Why is it important for my business?”
Let’s start with its definition. According to SEO industry leader, SEMrush, “a keyword is any search term entered on Google (or another search engine) that has a results page where websites are listed“.
For example, if you a search term in “st andrews golf course scotland”, you’ll be given results pages showing websites related to what you searched for. Similarly, your business will come up on the results page if shows up on top of search engines like Google for the right keywords.
This is online visibility in the digital-first era, the age where everyone gets everything done (or purchased) on the internet. And optimizing your website for the right keywords is the best way to meet your customers where they are.
What is the role of seed keywords?
You’re probably thinking about how to start. Here’s where seed keywords come in. Seed keywords are specific search terms you most associate your business with.
What words first come to mind when you think about your product or service?
Those are your seed keywords if the search intent is being justified. They serve as the starting point of your keyword research and the deciding factor of which ones will make it to your website.
Check out these two questions from Moz to jumpstart your brainstorming session:
- What’s my business about?
- What words would my customers/target market use if they were searching up my line of business?
Seed Keyword List: Defining The Words That Matter
Take your answers from the last section’s questions and use them to shorten your list to the keywords that are most relevant to your business. This will then become your seed keyword list which you’ll use in the research process.
For example, a business selling men’s clothing would have the following listed initially:
- men’s wear
By defining what products their company actually offers will erase some words off the list. Thinking about the common words their customers use when it comes to their line of business will do the same thing.
Identifying Your Target Audience
Your target audience is the customer base you want to connect and do business with. Knowing who they are will help you choose the right keywords and content for your business’ website.
The Search Engine Journal shares 7 methods that will help you define your target audience:
- Use keywords to get data on demographics
- Look at who your websites’ visitors are through Google Analytics
- Check out your competitor’s demographics
- Use insights from your social media platforms
- Make a survey focused on interests, needs, demographics
- Research their questions using tools like AnswerThePublic.
- Get more insight about that age group using Google Scholar
Figure Out Your Top 5 Competitors
Identifying what keywords your competitors are going after is an important part of keyword research because knowing the terms they rank for will show you the opportunities you’re missing out on. Figuring out who they are can easily be done through Google or any of the SEO tools we’ll be discussing later.
For now, you can try typing in your seed keyword on Google and see who comes up in the top five of the results page. The ones who Google serves as results are most likely your competitors. Exclude big brands and websites like Amazon, Britannica, etc., and compare apples to apples instead.
Spy Out Your Competitors’ Keyword Strategy
Spying out your competitors’ strategies is one way for you to understand how the whole search ball game looks like. You can check out how they’re performing by looking at these metrics through an SEO tool:
- Keywords they’re ranking for on Google
- Content traffic
The data you’ll uncover from these will show you the following insights:
- What kind of content people are finding useful that they refer back to the website (backlinks)
- What keywords are people using the most to search for their services
- What kind of content is resonating the most with their target audience (traffic)
Check The Performance Of Your Existing Keywords
You can also do the same thing for your business’ website if it’s already up and running. Specifically, check out the performance of keywords you’re already ranking for.
You can use Google Search Console if you don’t have your own SEO tool yet. The data you’ll see here will show the words or phrases that your website shows up for in Google which are measured using the following:
- Average click-through rate
And then, compare your data with your competitors to see what areas you’re winning in and which ones you’re yet to cover.
Find New Keyword Opportunities
Keyword opportunities abound for the patient searcher. You can discover ones with untapped potential in two ways:
- Continuing on with Google Search Console from the previous step
- Doing a keyword gap analysis from your competitor’s data
Ahrefs suggests looking for keywords on Search Console that have high impressions that you didn’t specifically target before. On the other hand, doing a keyword gap analysis will show you the keywords your competitor is using that you aren’t yet.
After identifying them, you can then target these keywords by creating or adjusting the content of your website for those terms
Filter Your Keywords
We lightly discussed this concept above and suggested that you can start filtering through questions that help define what your business is about. Let’s take that a step further by categorizing the list you have now into three levels of importance as suggested by SEMrush:
- Primary – high volume, high chances of conversion
- Secondary – high volume but high competition levels
- Tertiary – informational queries, low conversion ex. “how-to”
Prioritizing your keywords this way will give you a clearer picture as to which ones you should build on that will give you the best results. Check out searcher’s intent too for increased accuracy.
How To Pick The Right Keywords Based On Various Metrics
Metrics show you the potential of each keyword through data that reveals the following:
- How many times on average people search for that keyword((What is the search volume of that keyword). Keyword search volume can be obtained with free tools like Ubersuggest).
- The ease or difficulty of ranking for that keyword
Simply put, these metrics are search volumes and keyword competition.
Search volumes help you see the terms people use more often. They also reflect what topics or queries interest them. Keyword competition helps you understand how tight it already is in the room. You can choose keywords that have high search volumes and low competition to help you rank better.
How to know low hanging fruit keywords for your business?
Long hanging fruits are opportunities you can easily maximize because these are ones just within your reach. It could be using the keywords you’re already ranking for but haven’t built any content for yet. Or using keywords on pages or elements in your website that need it.
A simple adjustment or optimization in these areas can potentially increase your website’s traffic. Neil Patel recommends these 7 long hanging fruits:
- Optimizing your title tags
- Optimize your H1s
- Create more content
- Use alt tags in your images
- Use internal links
- Make your content easy to read
- Optimize your meta descriptions
Top 5 Tools To Do Keyword Research
Great tools are out there to make keyword research easier, more efficient, and more profitable too. Take a look at these five tools that are the best in the industry.
SEMrush can deepen your marketing insight by showing you what questions people are asking from that term and what keywords your competitors are ranking for.
Ahrefs’ research abilities stand out by showing a breakdown of valuable competitor’s data that show up on the search engine results pages.
Google Keyword Planner
This free SEO tool from Google lets you search for keywords and gives you an estimate of the cost of targeting them through Google Ads.
This is a more advanced version of Google Keyword Planner in that it has features like competitor analysis and content ideas not found in Google. It’s also more affordable than other research tools.
KeywordTool.io specializes in long tail keywords that are very specific in searcher’s intent and that are low in competition. Tools like this will help you increase conversion and understand your audience better.
Achieving Keyword Research Success
Keyword research is quite a long process but it’s not impossible. You’ll definitely get the hang of it with a little more practice and patience.
But you don’t have to do it alone.
Use keyword tools that will make the task lighter. You can also consult with experts who can do the research for you so you can focus on other important tasks for your business. Either way, we’re rooting for you and we know you’ll succeed.