Having a great product or service is extremely important for a business. But unfortunately, that’s not all it takes to ensure success and growth. If your products or services can’t be brought to the attention of paying customers, revenue is going to be limited.
So if you’ve been looking into building your business’s online presence, you’ve probably heard of SEO. Simply put, SEO is search engine optimization, and is all about making sure you show up in the web searches that are most valuable to you.
That’s where keyword research comes in. Keyword research is crucial for making sure your SEO strategy targets the customers who are most likely to engage with your business. While the process might seem overwhelming, here are some simple steps to get you started.
It’s big picture time. Start thinking about what topic or search query your company should be an authority on. As you brainstorm, you can use tools like Google Search Console to find ideas. Make sure to write down your ideas of topics and themes in a comprehensive list.
For example, let’s say your company sells winter gloves. Are you targeting your product toward winter sports enthusiasts such as snowboarders or skiers? Are your gloves specifically designed to handle lower temperatures than your competitors? Come up a keyword idea based on these questions.
Alternatively, consider the design and determine if your ideal customer is fashion-forward or looking for rugged utilitarianism. Those overarching aspects of your business or product will likely influence your specific keyword choices.
You can also get your team involved when looking for inspiration. Have other individuals at your company add to your list as they come up with search term ideas.
Now that you have some basic ideas of areas of authority, you can check keywords within those topics in a keyword tool. By doing so, you can see which keyword or keyword phrase have search volume and which ones are less competitive.
Popular software choices include SEMRush and Ahrefs, among others. Several of these tools have free versions to help you choose the right keyword. Using a keyword research tool can yield data for multiple purposes, including:
You probably have a good list of seed keywords to use as a jumping off point. To determine what to focus on first, consider what potential keywords you could see movement on. Pay attention to the number of monthly searches, keyword difficulty, the number of keywords for that topic, etc. This data can help give you insight as to which SEO keyword to target.
If you have a lower DA, you'll likely want to try and capture a long-tail keyword with lower keyword difficulty. Once your site has more authority, onsite content, and backlinks, you can start targeting some of those higher volume, harder keywords. Highlight the relevant keyword you think you can tackle first.
It’s not only important to drive more traffic to your site. It’s equally important to drive the right traffic to your site.
Most SEO tools will include what the search intent for keywords is. You want to look at what people are looking for when they search that specific word.
Either check the SEO tools, or look for yourself through a Google search and see what types of content show up in the SERP.
Are they all informational blogs diving into a subject? Then it's an informational search intent. Are they all service or product pages? Then it's commercial intent.
Knowing a customer’s intent helps you know what type of content you'd need to create to rank for those keywords.
In school, it’s generally frowned upon to look at your classmates’ test answers. With SEO, it’s very much encouraged to see what your competitors are doing to determine potential keyword suggestions. You may find a new keyword that helps give you a leg up from the rest.
First, look at different search engines to see what they’re ranking for. They might be on page one for a keyword that you’re not even thinking about.
Look specifically at what your competitors are putting paid efforts toward. Because frankly, if they’re spending money on those terms then it’s likely they’re performing well and benefiting their bottom line.
After you’ve come up with a keyword list you want to target, you can organize the related keywords into a cluster. This list can include long-tail keywords or short-tail keywords depending on which part of the funnel you are targeting. Then rank each cluster of keywords in order of focus priority. Most times, your website “hero content” is going to be your highest priority cluster.
If you’re using pillars for your SEO strategy, your hero content will be a high-quality item like a comprehensive guide. This item will be at the core of your business and draw viewers into your site. From there, other keyword clusters can serve as offshoots or spokes of the main content hub.
Let’s go back to our winter glove example. Perhaps the main, central purpose of the product is to provide exceptional frostbite protection in subzero temperatures. Your main keyword cluster might be around “frostbite protection.”
After that main hub has been established, you might want to create related blogs focusing on keywords around “how to protect from frostbite” and “3 things not to do when treating frostbite.”
Don’t overlook semantically related keywords as you’re writing the content. This type of related keyword will ensure you’re writing a holistic piece of content that covers a topic from all angles.
Overall, it’s fairly common to have three to four overarching clusters of keywords that you focus on with varying intent, based on your business. If the winter glove company sells winter gloves, coats, and boots, they may have clusters around each of those products.
Learning how to do keyword research is a vital step in your SEO strategy. You can make your presence known not only to more customers, but also the specific searchers who are more likely to convert. Once you get your keyword list, start creating content that’s SEO-optimized and matches the keyword intent.
Just remember, keyword research isn’t a one-time deal. As your SEO efforts begin to see traction, you’ll regularly want to make sure your target keyword is getting the desired results. If not, you can always tweak your strategy or abandon certain terms that aren’t proving beneficial.