Keyword research will help you drive more organic traffic to your site and improve your search rankings. You will also gain insights into your target audience’s questions and concerns. Using these insights to create unique and valuable content will help you stay ahead of your competitors and win the rankings.
By: Olof Strömbäck on January 17, 2024 | Reading time: 10 minutes
Why do keyword research?
If no one searches for what you’re writing about, you won’t get traffic from Google. That’s why keyword research is required to beat the rankings over your competitors. It helps you understand the language and specific terms your target audience uses. Relevant keywords are essential for a successful SEO strategy.
Keyword research provides valuable information about your audience’s search behavior and intent. It also helps you find the most relevant and popular keywords related to your industry, products, or services. This knowledge allows you to optimize your website content, blog posts, and other online assets to match the essential keywords to your audience.
Solid keyword research will help you find new and unique opportunities. You can discover niche topics and areas with less competition by exploring different variations and longer keyword phrases (long tail keywords). This helps you stand out and attract a more specific audience.
Furthermore, keyword research also helps improve your search engine rankings. Using the right keywords in your content tells search engines that your content is relevant and valuable. This increases the chances of your website appearing in search results when users search for those keywords.
In summary, keyword research is crucial because it helps you understand your audience, optimize your content, and find new opportunities. This will improve your search engine visibility. Investing time in keyword research will drive more organic traffic to your website and achieve your SEO goals.
What is keyword research?
Keyword research is about figuring out what words and phrases people use when searching online. It helps you understand what your target audience is looking for: products, services, or information.
Keyword research helps you determine if there is a demand for your content and if people are searching for it. By conducting keyword research, you can ensure that there is a search demand for the content you intend to create. It provides insights into the specific keywords and phrases people use to search, allowing you to create content that matches their needs. This is needed to attract organic traffic to your website.
One of the critical benefits of keyword research is that it helps you make your content more search engine-friendly. Using the right keywords on your website will increase your chances of ranking higher in search results. And when your content shows up at the top, more people will see it and click on it, getting more visitors interested in what you’re offering.
In summary, keyword research is vital in content marketing and SEO. It helps you understand your audience’s search behavior, ensures there is a demand for your content, and enables you to optimize your website to attract organic traffic. Investing time and effort into effective keyword research can increase your chances of reaching and engaging your target audience effectively.
How to do keyword research step-by-step
1. Finding keyword ideas
Identify the words and phrases your customers are using
2. Analyzing keywords
Use SEO (and SEA) metrics to analyze your keywords
3. Prioritizing keywords
Set your keywords priorities relevant to your audience
1. Finding keyword ideas – how to find out the words and phrases that your customers are using
Start off with your seed keywords
To begin keyword research, first identify your target audience and select the product or service you want to create content for. Once you have done this, try to think like your customers and consider the specific words and phrases they would likely use when searching on Google to find what you offer. This will help you generate relevant keywords for your content.
This process will provide you with a set of so-called seed keywords, which define your niche and help you identify competitors. Keyword research tools require a seed keyword to generate a wide range of keyword ideas.
The process is straightforward but relies on a solid understanding of your industry and target audience. This knowledge is crucial as it enables you to brainstorm and generate relevant keywords effectively.
Explore Your Competition
Look at your competitors to discover more keywords. Start by identifying your competitors and then search for one of your seed keywords on Google. Take note of the competitors appearing on the first page of the search results. This can provide you with additional keyword ideas to add to your list.
Once you have identified suitable competitors, use a tool like Ahrefs’ Site Explorer to check which pages receive the most traffic and the keywords they target. Add these keywords to your list for valuable insights to enhance your keyword strategy.
Determine search demand and find non-obvious keyword ideas with keyword research tools
While your competitors can provide valuable keywords, they may only cover some relevant search queries. Using a keyword research tool to uncover these non-obvious keywords is recommended. This tool will help you identify additional keywords your competitors may have missed.
Keyword research tools all work the same way. You type in a seed keyword, and they generate a list of keyword ideas from their databases based on that keyword. A great feature of most keyword tools is that they can generate ideas that don’t necessarily contain your seed keyword, making them valuable for discovering non-obvious keyword ideas. Keyword research tools will also help you determine if there is a search demand for a specific keyword or if you should remove it from your list.
You can find many free keyword research tools available online, but they are limited in terms of data and functionality. If your goal is to increase the search traffic to your website, using a professional keyword research tool is strongly recommended.
Study your customers
While collecting keywords through brainstorming, studying competitors, or using keyword research tools, it’s possible to overlook niched keywords with lower volume that may be relevant. Factors like age difference or personal experience in a specific field can influence this. Stay open-minded and consider all potential keywords, even if they seem irrelevant immediately.
Find niche keywords by going to where your target audience hangs out – industry forums, groups, and Q&A sites – and studying their conversations. Learning what your customers search for in your internal site search bar is also an excellent way to pick up keywords you otherwise would have missed.
2. Analyzing keywords – use SEO (and SEA) metrics to analyze your keywords
Keyword analysis will help you choose the best keywords for your website from your list of keywords. It is the process of evaluating search terms in your content to improve rankings.
Looking at a keyword’s search volume is a logical first step since it will tell you the number of times a keyword gets searched per month, in other words, its popularity.
Four essential things to know about search volume:
• Search volume is the average number of times a keyword gets searched per month, not the number of people who searched
• The search volume does not equal how much traffic you will receive if you rank for it
• It’s a monthly average calculated from the traffic for the entire year
• It’s country-specific, but some tools also have an option to show you the global search volume
It’s a common mistake to disregard low search volume keywords. Whether you should go for them depends on your offering, customers, and the competition. They can be instrumental since they are more specific and often have high commercial value since customers searching for particular phrases might be further down the funnel.
Traffic potential shows the sum of organic traffic from all the variations of a particular keyword
It is important to consider a keyword’s traffic potential along with search volume. Regardless of the search query, different people will phrase it differently, although they are looking for the same thing. Google understands this and will rank the same page for all these similar search queries, which means the page can receive traffic from all these search queries.
Traffic Potential shows the sum of organic traffic that the number 1 ranking page for your target keyword receives from all the variations of that keyword. This means traffic potential can vary considerably between keywords despite having the same search volumes.
Determine the keyword difficulty
Another step in analyzing keywords is determining the difficulty of ranking for that keyword. Experienced SEO professionals will typically do this manually by using the most critical factors, such as competitors, search intent, domain rating, number of backlinks, etc.
Several keyword research tools automatically measure keyword difficulty. The tools give you a score of 100 for how difficult it will be to rank for a keyword based on several factors, including the number of competing pages, the authority of those pages, and the overall search volume.
However, you should always assess a keyword manually before deciding whether to target it. No tool can distill the complexity of Google’s ranking algorithm into a number.
A high CPC indicates relevant and converting keywords
Cost Per Click shows the average cost of a click on a paid search result for a given keyword. Hence, it’s more a metric for advertisers. But at the same time, keywords with a high CPC indicate that they are relevant and converting keywords since companies are advertising and are willing to pay for a click on an ad displayed on top of search results.
Note that the CPC is much more volatile than search volume, and a keyword’s CPC can change any minute as more companies display ads for them.
3. Prioritizing keywords – let relevance and potential guide you
Prioritizing keywords relevant to your audience will optimize your content efforts.
Your list of potential keywords should be prioritized based on the following:
• The relevance and quality of the traffic from the suggested keyword
Will the traffic help you achieve your marketing goals? For example, increase conversions or brand awareness.
• Conclusions from the keyword analysis
• High average monthly search volumes (indicating the possibility of increasing visits to the website)
• Are you already ranking for the suggested keyword?
If you already have a strong position – prioritize other keywords
If you rank between positions 4 and 20 – prioritize the keyword and optimize to improve rankings.
Conclusion and next steps
To sum up, keyword research is a cornerstone in any SEO strategy. It helps you understand your audience’s search behavior, optimize your content, and increase your organic visibility. Investing time and effort into effective keyword research will increase your chances of reaching and engaging your target audience effectively.
So, don’t overlook the power of keywords, and prioritize them based on relevance and search volume to achieve your marketing goals.
But you are not done yet. After solid keyword research, you have what it takes to speak your audience’s language. The next step will be to map these keywords to a specific URL. More on that in our next guide in this series which will published in two weeks.
About the author
Olof Strömbäck is an SEO Content Consultant at Curamando, a leading digital consulting firm in the Nordics. He has a background in B2C retail and the car industry in the areas of CRM, content creation, and copywriting.