Keyword research is an essential part of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) because it helps businesses understand what their target audience is searching for and how they can optimize their website to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs).
When conducting keyword research, businesses can identify the keywords and phrases that their target audience is using to find products or services like theirs. This information can then be used to optimize website content, meta tags, and other on-page elements to make the site more visible to search engines and users.
Keyword Research Benefits
One of the main benefits of keyword research is that it helps understand the intent behind a search query. This can help businesses create content that addresses the specific needs and desires of their target audience. For example, if a business knows that their target audience is searching for "how to clean hair from a sink drain," they can create a blog post or video that provides step-by-step instructions on how to fix the problem.
Another benefit of keyword research is that it can help businesses identify long-tail keywords that have lower competition but still drive qualified traffic. These long-tail keywords are often more specific and less competitive than short-tail keywords, making it easier for a website to rank for them.
Keyword research can also be used to identify new opportunities for content creation, link building, and other SEO strategies. If a business discovers that their target audience is searching for a specific product or service that they don't currently offer, they may consider adding it to their product line or creating new content to address the demand.
Conduct Keyword Research
The primary steps when conducting keyword research for SEO include:
Identifying Your Target Audience
This step involves understanding the makeup of your target audience. It will also help you identify the keywords and phrases that your target audience is using to find products or services like yours.
There are entire courses taught in college on how to identify your target audience, but here is a non-exhaustive list to get started:
Define Your Buyer Personas
A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer. It should include information about their demographics, interests, pain points, and goals. This will help you understand the needs and desires of your target audience.
Analyze Your Website Traffic
Use web analytics tools like Google Analytics to analyze your website's traffic. Look at the demographics of your website visitors, the pages they visit, and the actions they take on your website. This information can give you insight into the interests and behavior of your target audience.
Look at Your Competitors
Analyze the websites of your competitors to see who they are targeting and what keywords they are using. This can give you an idea of what keywords and phrases are popular in your industry.
Conduct Market Research
Conduct surveys, interviews, or focus groups to gather information directly from your target audience. This will give you a better understanding of their needs, desires, and pain points.
Generate a List of Keywords
Use research tools to generate a list of relevant keywords and phrases related to your business or industry. There are many tools available, some of which are free to use while others may require a subscription.
Use Keyword Research Tools
Start with Seed Keywords
Seed keywords are broad terms related to your business or industry. Use these as a starting point to generate a list of related keywords. You can use the keyword research tools listed above.
Use Google Autocomplete
When you start typing a search query into Google, it will automatically suggest related keywords and search terms. This can be a great way to find long-tail keywords and terms that you may not have thought of.
Analyze Your Website's Content
Look at the content on your website and identify the keywords that you are currently using. You can also use a tool like Google Search Console to see the keywords that are driving traffic to your website.
Look at Your Competitor’s Websites
Analyze the websites of your competitors to see the keywords they are using. You can use the keyword research tools mentioned above (like SEMrush and Google Keyword Planner) to see the keywords that your competitors are ranking for.
Analyze Search Volume and Competition
Once you have a list of keywords, you need to analyze the search volume and competition for each one. Search volume will give you an idea of the potential traffic a keyword can bring to your website, while competition will tell you how difficult it will be to rank for it.
Here's how to do it.
Search Volume: Search volume refers to the number of times a keyword is searched for on a search engine like Google. This information can give you an idea of the potential traffic a keyword can bring to your website. Search volume can be found using your keyword research tools.
Competition: Competition refers to the number of websites that are competing for a particular keyword. The more competition for a keyword, the harder it will be to rank for it. You can check the competition for a keyword by using the keyword tools and analyzing the number of backlinks and the authority of websites that are currently ranking for it. A low competition keyword will have less number of backlinks and websites ranking for it.
Once you have the data for search volume and competition, you can use it to make decisions about which keywords to target in your SEO efforts. Keywords with high search volume and low competition are ideal because they have the potential to drive a lot of traffic to your website and are relatively easy to rank for.
You can also use the search volume and competition data to identify long-tail keywords that have lower competition but still drive significant traffic to the website. These long-tail keywords are often more specific and less competitive than short-tail keywords, making it easier for a website to rank for them.
Once you have a list of keywords that you want to target, you can use the data to prioritize them based on their search volume and competition level. This will help you focus your efforts on the most promising ones and make the most of your SEO efforts.
Identify Long-Tail Keywords
Long-tail keywords are longer, more specific phrases that have lower competition but still drive qualified traffic to a website. Identifying long-tail keywords will help you find new opportunities for content creation and link building. Here are a few ways to identify long-tail keywords:
- Use keyword tools like Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs and SEMrush.
- Look at the websites of your competitors to see the long-tail keywords they are targeting.
- Use Google Autocomplete to show long-tail keywords that you may not have thought of.
- Use Google Search Console to see the long-tail keywords that current visitors are already searching for.
- Use customer feedback and surveys.
Grouping keywords involves grouping similar keywords together based on topic or theme. This will help you create targeted content and optimize your website structure for multiple keywords at once.
Here are a few ways to group keywords when conducting keyword research:
- Identify related keywords: Once you have a list of keywords, you should identify ones that are related to each other. Focus on the meaning and intent behind each one.
- Use keyword tools: Many of the tools listed above provide data on related keywords and keywords groups.
- Create keyword clusters: Group related keywords together into clusters, which are groups of related keywords that share a common topic or theme. This will help you create targeted content that addresses the specific needs and desires of your target audience.
- Use spreadsheet: Use a spreadsheet to organize your keywords by topic or theme. This will make it easier for you to see which keywords belong to which group, and how they relate to each other.
- Use the grouping to create content: Once you have grouped your keywords, you can use this information to create targeted content that addresses the specific needs and desires of your target audience. This can be blog posts, articles, videos, or any other type of content that uses the keywords in the title, meta tags, and body of the content.
Optimize Your Website
Once you have identified and grouped your keywords, you can optimize your website by including the keywords in your website's meta tags, title tags, header tags, and content. Here are the important steps you should take to optimize your website:
- Add keywords to your meta tags.
- Put keywords in your header tags.
- Use more keywords in your content.
- Optimize images with keywords in the file names and alt tags.
- Use internal linking to link related pages together.
- Use schema markup.
It's also important to use your keyword research when building out your ongoing content strategy. By crafting content around your target persona and the search terms that target is using, you can better position your business website to rank well in the search results.
Monitor Results and Adjust
Keyword research doesn’t end after updating your website. It is important to continuously monitor your website's performance and adjust your keyword strategy, if needed. Use web analytics tools to track your website's traffic, conversions, and rankings to see how your keyword optimization efforts are impacting your SEO.
Use Web Analytics Tools
Use tools like Google Analytics to track your website's traffic, conversions, and rankings. This will help you see how your SEO efforts are impacting your website's performance.
Monitor Your Search Engine Rankings
SEMrush, Ahrefs, or Google Search Console can help you monitor your website's search engine rankings. This will help you see how your website is performing for your targeted keywords and identify any issues that need to be addressed.
Monitor Your Competitors
Keep an eye on your competitors' websites, search engine rankings, backlinks, and traffic, and adjust your strategy if you see them finding success with something you’re not trying.
Adjust Your Strategy
Based on the data from your monitoring and testing, make adjustments to your SEO strategy as needed. This could include changes to your targeted keywords, content, or link building efforts.
Keyword research is an essential part of SEO because it helps businesses understand the needs and desires of their target audience, identify new opportunities for growth, and optimize their website to rank higher in search engine results pages. By conducting thorough keyword research, businesses can improve their visibility in search results and drive more traffic to their website.