In our previous blog post, we talked about keyword research and why it’s important for any business that wants to be found online. But you might be wondering, just how exactly do you do keyword research? Where do you start?
How users search
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of keyword research, let’s look at how users typically use keywords in their search.
- When users use search engines, they follow a trail of keywords until they find results that are relevant to them.
- As they search, they continuously refine their keywords to track down what they’re looking for.
- For example, someone searching for a new pair of running shoes may use a general keyword like “running shoes” and then refine it to “best running shoes for flat feet” as they continue their search. They may also add more information to narrow down their search, such as “best running shoes for flat feet under $100.”
As content marketers, we can increase the likelihood that our prospects will find us when we build as many assets as we can targeting context and intent. These assets may come in the form of blog posts, infographics, videos, or even podcast episodes.
It’s also important to build assets across the entire demand curve – from awareness to conversion – to cater to the needs of users at different stages of the buying process.
TL;DR: We need to create content that people need and would be delighted to discover, and not publish assets just for the sake of doing so.
Where to look for keywords
Here’s a step-by-step plan that you can use to help you find the best keywords to target. With this process, you can create a focused content strategy to make your website more visible to the right audience.
Step 1: Create a list of foundational topics or phrases that your audience cares about.
This step is essential in understanding what your audience is actually searching for. Start with a list of topics based on your understanding of your audience, their needs, and their interests, and how these relate to your business’s key offerings.
You can gather this information by conducting surveys, and interviews, or by using tools such as Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner.
You can also invite your team to brainstorm and come up with 10-15 topic clusters that are important to your business and your customers.
These topics may be broad or general, but they will serve as a starting point for identifying more specific keywords later on.
Step 2: Using these topic clusters as a jump-off point, find relevant keywords.
Once you’ve identified the topics that your audience is interested in, it’s time to find specific keywords under these topic clusters. These are the most common phrases your prospects would likely use to find you on search engine results pages (SERPs).
The goal is not to come up with an exhaustive list of keyword phrases that you’ll use to optimize your content. The point of this exercise is to simply list down phrases your prospects may be typing in Google related to a particular topic cluster.
Step 3: Understand the user intent behind every keyword.
When conducting keyword research, it’s important to consider the different types of intent that users may have when searching for keywords. This information will help you create pages and assets that match the user intent.
For example, if a user is searching for “how to make a cake” it’s clear that the intent behind the query is informational – i.e., they want to learn something. On the other hand, if the user is searching for “buy cake online” the intent behind the query is transactional – i.e., they want to make a purchase.
When you want to determine what the user’s intent is behind a specific keyword, try typing that keyword into a search engine and see what comes up. Check if the kind of content Google shows you match the kind of content you want to make for that word or phrase.
Step 4: Take advantage of free and paid SEO research tools.
There are many different tools available to help you conduct keyword research and optimize your website for search engines. Some of these tools are free, while others require a subscription or payment.
Free tools include:
- Google Keyword Planner
- Google Trends
Other tools include:
- Moz’s Keyword Explorer
- Authority Labs
- Keywords Everywhere
- Keyword Tool
You can also use Google Search’s Auto-suggest feature to find keywords you can use, or use it as a starting point to find parallel keywords you haven’t considered yet.
Step 5: Choose the best keywords.
When selecting keywords for your website, it’s important to take into account the volume, competition, and relevance of each keyword.
You want to select keywords that have a good balance of search volume, low competition, and relevance to your website.
- Volume – the number of times a keyword is searched for on a search engine. The higher the volume, the higher the number of people are searching for that keyword. A high volume keyword may also have a lot of competition, which can make it more difficult to rank for that keyword.
- Competition – the number of other websites that are also trying to rank for that keyword.
- Relevance – how well a keyword matches the content of your website.
When deciding the order of importance for your keywords, it will largely depend on how you want to impact search results.
If you want to focus on keywords that are frequently searched, you will prioritize them first. On the other hand, if you want to focus on specific keywords that are not as frequently searched, you will place them at the top of the list and put more effort in targeting them.
Both approaches have advantages and disadvantages, and the final decision will depend on your objectives.
Keyword research is a crucial step in optimizing your website for search engines and driving targeted traffic to your site. By knowing your target audience, you can identify the right keywords that can improve your website’s visibility in search results. Remember to take into account the volume, competition, and relevance of each keyword when selecting the keywords for your website.
Keep in mind that keyword research is an ongoing process, you should continue to monitor and adjust your strategy as needed to ensure that your website stays relevant and continues to drive targeted traffic.