Keyword Research Pt. 1

Throughout your education, on search engine optimization (SEO) you will see how keywords are an integral part of the increased ranking. Keyword research is important for all websites, this is how your audience locates you organically. You will use keywords through your content, pay-per-click campaigns (PPC), and organic traffic. It is also how Google ranks web pages for their relevancy and authoritativeness.

Part of a digital marketing company’s process is auditing your site and your competitor site for keywords.  Keywords research can take up a lot of time, and unfortunately, most people do not spend enough time in this part of increasing their Google rankings. 

Understand What Your Audience Wants To Find

Once you understand how you appear in search results, you will need to understand keywords. You will need to be strategic in determining the keywords to target throughout your website’s content, content creation, blog posts, and consumer satisfaction as well as search engine satisfaction. 

Understanding your target market based on how they search for your content, services and/or products, will help you compile a better keyword database.

When done correctly, keyword research can answer specific search data questions: 

  • What are potential customers searching for? 
  • How many people are searching for that? 
  • In what format do they want the information? 

This is a multiple part series, focused on keyword research and other topics to help grow your search engine ranking organically as well what to build a pay-per-click ad around. 

Before starting to grow your business through search engine optimization, you will first need to gather information about who your customer is.  When working with Blue Water Marketing in Stuart, FL, we will start by asking those questions to you, spending time in the planning steps.  

Focusing on the targeted audience and then using keyword data to laser focus those insights will make a more successful campaign than using arbitrary keywords.  

What Are People Searching For?

Finding out what your targeted customer is searching for is the first step in the keyword research process. You probably already have a few keyword ideas in mind that you might like to rank for. Such as products you sell, services, and other topics, these are great “seed” keywords for your research and should be a starting point.

You’ll enter those keywords into a keyword research tool, for example, Moz or SEMrush, to discover the monthly search volume, similar keywords and obtain keyword suggestions.  More on search volume in a later section, for now, we are focusing on the discovery phase.  While in the first phase you will determine which variation of your keywords are the most popular among searchers.

A great example is if you are a wedding photographer in south Florida and you are researching your keywords.  In your keyword research tool, you’ll type in “wedding” and “photographer” and you might discover highly relevant and searched terms:

  • Wedding photographer arrested 
  • Average wedding photographer cost 
  • Wedding photographers near me

While discovering relevant keywords for your content most likely you will see the search volume will vary greatly between keywords. You will want to target the terms that your consumer is searching for, in some instances it may be advantageous to target terms with lower search volume. Terms with lower search volume are far less competitive.

Learning more about search volume can help you prioritize both high and low competition keywords. You will want to pick the ones that give your website the biggest strategic advantage.

It is important to mention that the website as a whole does not rank for keywords– individual pages do.  Large corporations and brands will often have their homepage ranking for many relevant keywords, however, this is not the case with smaller websites.  Many websites receive more organic traffic to their other pages than the homepage. This makes it important to use a variety of keywords throughout the different pages of your website to increase organic traffic to your site.

What Is Search Volume?

There is more work involved to achieve higher rankings when using a keyword or keyword phrase with a high search volume. This is often referred to as keyword difficulty and incorporates into SERP features.

Big brands will take up the top 10 results for high-volume keywords. Therefore when starting out you should be aware that it will be a lot of work to rank for those same keywords and will also take time.

Typically, the higher the search volume the greater the competition and effort will be required to achieve organic SERP success. Start with low ranking keywords, but be careful not to go too low and run the risk of not drawing any searchers to your site. It will be most advantageous to target highly specific and lower competition search terms, referred to as long-tail keywords in SEO.

What Is A Long Tail Keyword?

In a perfect world, you would have nothing but keywords that receive thousands of searches a month, however, we live in reality.  Keywords that have over 5,000 searches a month make up a small portion of all searches performed. In fact, keywords with very high search volumes may even indicate ambiguous intent, drawing visitors to your site who have no need for your content.

Having visitors arrive at your site and your content not make their needs will ultimately decrease your ranking on the search engine results pages. The decrease is due to a Google Algorithm assessing your site’s bounce rate,  E-A-T, and other analytics. 

They’re the foundation of an effective SEO strategy. Long-tail keywords account for 70% of all web searches.

Don’t underestimate less popular keywords; long tail keywords that have lower search volume will more likely convert better. Searchers are more specific and intentional in their searches when they use long tail keywords. 

To best explain what a long tail keyword is, it is best to use an example.

You have one person searching “shoes” are more likely to be browsing and less likely to convert to a purchase. However, a person searching “low price red women’s size 7 high heel shoe” is ready to purchase immediately.

Long-tail keywords are how actually search the internet. Utilizing them will help you outrank your competition by giving your content more context.  The average conversion rate for long-tail keywords is 36%. 

Key Takeaway:

Long Tail Keywords Convert 36% Of The Time

Broad Keywords Are Less Likely To Convert

Become More Strategic

Now that you know your relevant search terms and search volumes you are able to start being more strategic by looking into competitors keywords.  You can also start researching how your keyword searches might change season to season or geographically. 

Keywords By Competitor 

After you compile a long list of keywords and keyword phrases, you need to start a plan of attack. Prioritizing high-volume keywords that your competitors are not currently ranking for is a great place to start. You can also see keywords from your list your competitors are already ranking for and start prioritizing them as well.

You should be capitalizing on your competitors’ missed opportunities and start an aggressive strategy will set you up to compete for keywords your competitor already is ranking for.

There are some tools provide substantial information on keywords by a competitor. 

 

Keywords By Season 

Some keywords are seasonal and should be used strategically throughout your content when approaching that time frame.   

For instance, growing seeds are at their peak for selling between late April and early June. You should prepare content for several months in advance and push it around those months.  

Keywords By Region 

If you want to be more strategic you can target a specific location. You would narrow down your keyword research to specific cities, counties, or states in Google Keyword Planner. If you want to evaluate interest based on subregions you can utilize Google Trends. 

Geo-specific research can help make your content more relevant to your target audience. This can be noted in the differences between “soda” and “pop” or “carbonated water” and “seltzer” terminology.

 

Which format best suits the searcher’s intent?

You have already gained understanding about SERP features, and how searchers want to consume information. The format in which Google chooses to display search results depend on intent.  Google uses Quality Rater Guidelines  to describe these intents in their as: Know – find information, Do – accomplish a goal, Website – find a specific website, or Visit in person – visiting a local business.  

 

There are more search types than we can imagine, but there are 5 major categories worth noting: 

  • Informational queries: The searcher is needing information, such as the name of a brand or height of the Gold Gate Bridge. 
  • Navigational queries: The searchers wants to go to a particular place on the Internet, such as Facebook or Walmart’s home page. 
  • Transactional queries: The searcher wants to do something such as buying a plane ticket or listen to a podcast. 
  • Commercial investigation: The searcher is wanting to compare products and find the best one that suits their needs. 
  • Local queries: the searchers want to find something locally, for instance, a nearby coffee shop or doctors office. 

 

An important step in keyword research is surveying the SERP for the keywords you want to target in order to better understand the searcher intent. If you want to know what type of content to create, look at SERPs.

Google Keyword Planner For SEO

Tools For Determining The Value Of A Keyword

These tools can help you in keyword research arsenal:

  • Moz Keyword Explorer – Input a keyword in Keyword Explorer and get information like monthly search volume and SERP features (like local packs or featured snippets) that are ranking for that term. The tool extracts accurate search volume data by using live clickstream data.  
  • SEMrush is another great all-around SEO tool that supports both traditional keyword research and competitor-based research methods. SEMrush caused a stir in the market when it launched in 2008 as it was the first competitor-based SEO tool. 
  • Google Keyword Planner – Google’s AdWords Keyword Planner has historically been the most common starting point for SEO keyword research. However, Keyword Planner does restrict search volume data by lumping keywords together into large search volume range buckets.  
  • Google Trends – Google’s keyword trend tool is great for finding seasonal keyword fluctuations. For example, “funny Halloween costume ideas” will peak in the weeks before Halloween. 
  • AnswerThePublic – This free tool populates commonly searched for questions around a specific keyword. Bonus! You can use this tool in tandem with another free tool, Keywords Everywhere, to prioritize ATP’s suggestions by the search volume. 
  • SpyFu Keyword Research Tool – Provides some really neat competitive keyword data. 
  • Google Correlate – In Google’s own words, Google Correlate “is like Google Trends in reverse.” This free tool allows you to see queries whose frequency follows a similar pattern to your keyword. 

 

It is crucial to create valuable resources that are highly relevant to your top keywords. As we dive further into keywords you might feel overwhelmed or that it is a lot of work. Hiring a digital marketing company near you, allows you to gain the expertise of keywords by region. A digital marketing agency has the experience to research relevant keywords and create content that fits your needs.  We continue the discussion of keywords by talking through SERP features and how they relate to keyword research.

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