SEO Keyword Research Is Not Dead
Do you feel that keywords are passé, having landed in a grave years ago when Google decided to stop primarily using them for ranking? The latest algorithms from Google focus on topics to find relevancy rather than words. The way people search also reflects an emphasis on topics (or queries) rather than matching words. This has led to many marketers saying goodbye to keyword research. However, researching keywords and keyword phrases remains just as important as it did back when SEO first started to become mainstream.
What is SEO Keyword Research?
Keyword research is about much more than simply finding words to sprinkle throughout your content for increased rankings, which is how keywords were traditionally used. Putting in the time and effort remains an important component of your digital marketing campaigns, especially your SEO strategy. SEO keyword research today is about combining user search queries with relevant keyword phrases to create a topical structure for your content. Blog posts written in a format that covers all of the relevant questions and topics surrounding the main keyword phrase reinforce to Google that the piece will provide readers with something valuable.
SEO keyword research has become an art form of sorts. It begins with data and research, moves to topic ideation and ends with natural optimization and subtle reinforcement. These components have to be weaved together in a way that appeals to both reader and search engine without one taking precedence over the other.
Things to Consider When Conducting Keyword Research
Because of all that keyword phrases need to accomplish in today’s SEO landscape, it can be easy to get a little lost when learning how to find appropriate user queries to focus new content around. Here are some of the main things to master when getting started on your SEO keyword research.
Understanding Relevancy of Keywords/Topics
Relevancy is an essential component of content marketing for many reasons, especially as it is one area that Google uses to match pages to searches. Using keyword research provides you with a larger understanding of all the relevant terms associated with a particular topic. For example, if you are writing about cars, you also want to include relevant terms such as vehicle, automobiles and auto. Simply including a diverse array of relevant terms increases the ranking of your page. Furthermore, incorporating a variety of relevant terms enhances the content and boosts your rankings by demonstrating your page has a more comprehensive understanding of the topic.
When performing keyword research, it’s a best practice to focus on a primary phrase for the overall structure of the post. That being said, it’s important to have 4-5 other related keyword phrases that help expand upon the ideas in that primary phrase you’ve selected. For instance, if the primary keyword you’ve decided to focus your blog on is “How to take great pictures”, you might consider secondary keyword phrases along the lines of “When to take pictures”, or “what camera to use to take pictures”, as well as interchange the word “pictures” with “photos” or “images” to cast the widest-reaching net of keyword phrases in your piece.
Learning the Nuances of Your Topics
No matter the nature of your business, the topics about which you write are multi-faceted. It is difficult at times to fully comprehend all sides of your business and adequately include those in your SEO strategy. Working with keyword research provides you an opportunity to learn more about all of the niches and nuances within your business, including those you might not immediately realize. Then, you can include this in your content by writing about more diverse topics, which provide even more ways to be found by potential customers.
Half the battle of content writing is just coming up with a topic in the first place. The better you understand your industry, the easier it will be to spot the holes in great informational content. While one strategy for SEO keyword research is to just take the top-performing words and make better content than everyone else that focuses on that phrase, another great avenue to take is to find keyword phrases with less competition and be the first to make original, great content about it.
Discovering Opportunities for Targeting Traffic
Not only does keyword research help you remain relevant and discover additional nuances of your topic, it also helps you to find better opportunities for targeting traffic on your site. You can also find keywords and phrases that have the highest-volume for traffic. Often, these are highly lucrative keywords but also highly competitive and potentially expensive.
As was mention above, you can also find terms that have less competition that might provide additional ways to find traffic. By performing adequate research, you have the information you need to create a strategic SEO strategy that intelligently uses your budget to attract the traffic you want with a combination of high-volume and low-volume terms.
There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to SEO keyword research strategy, so coming up with a custom plan that best suits your business and it’s current placement in the industry you’re in is the best way to go.
Knowing the Language of Your Customers
No matter how brilliant your content or how much of an expert you are in your industry lingo, if it does not match the language of your customers, you will find that your pages do not rank well. Although you might feel that you have a strong sense of the language of your customers, keyword research provides invaluable insight that you cannot always get simply by interacting with your customers or performing market research.
It includes ways that potential customers think about your products and services and the language they use to search for your products. Including this language alongside the industry lingo increases the number of people who find your information and see it as relevant, which in turn improves your organic traffic and your SEO rankings.
Companies often make the mistake of labeling a product or service a certain way and assuming that everyone refers to it the same way. On the other hand, some things may be labeled correctly but have multiple meanings. Our own company name, BKA is a great example. If you searched for “What is BKA” on Google, you’d find a lot of information about a below-the-knee amputation procedure. However, if someone searches “What is BKA Content” they’d find information about our company.
When performing SEO keyword research, always be aware of language and how user intent changes based on the words in the keyword phrase.
Matching Landing Pages and Other Navigational Information
When you create your website, it is important that you make it easy to navigate. If customers find it confusing, they will quickly bounce. Learning more about keywords helps you to create a navigation that matches the language and needs of your customers. For one, the keywords provide recognizable language in which to use as your menu buttons and other navigational tools. As discussed above, there might be a disconnect between the industry language and that of the customers. Using the laymen’s terms in your navigational tools ensures customers know where to go.
Additionally, keyword research also helps you to create more relevant landing pages. Landing pages are an essential component of any successful SEO strategy because they direct customers to the actions you want them to perform. They need to be relevant to the keywords so that there is no disconnect when the customers arrive. Learning more about how the competition and customers use keywords and understand them enhances your ability to create dynamite landing pages.
One great way to showcase this point is to look at how one keyword phrase may be better suited for a landing page vs another keyword phrase that’s better suited for an informational blog. For instance, any keyword that has a question attached like “how to”, “what is”, “when should”, or “Why”, would be better suited for an information blog post that can fully answer their question. Any keyword that is specifically about a product or service would be better suited for a landing page that shows them the product or service and how you can help them.
People want relevant answers to their queries and don’t want to be jerked around by having to navigate through multiple pages. When conducting your SEO keyword research keep that in mind when picking keywords and the associated content types that you’ll use to try and win that keyword.
Getting Inside the Searcher’s Head
To increase traffic to your site, it is important to find ways to target all potential customers. Knowing what goes on in people’s heads helps you to create content that matches all stages of the sales process from contemplation to purchasing. As was mentioned above, it is important to understand what phrases match different parts of the stages so that you create content that is relevant to the customers in their present position.
To take it a step further, think deeper about search intent and put yourself into the shoes of your potential customers. If the people searching are simply interested and looking for research, they will want to find information that provides answers to their questions. If they already own something and are looking to solve an issue, then they will search for troubleshooting content. Taking some time to see what pages rank highest for certain keywords and phrases provides insight into the headspace of customers when they use these words so that you can create content that matches it.
Discovering Products and Services for the Future
When you research associated keywords in your business, you might also discover products and services you can add to your business to grow and expand. You might not have the ability to expand and grow your business at the moment, but it is beneficial to continually see ways that you could expand in the future rather than only looking into today’s potential business.
For example, if you provide massage therapy services, you might find that many people who search for it also search for facials, acupuncture and other complementary services. Using this information, you might decide to work towards adding facials and acupuncture services to your massage clinic in the future to bring in additional customers.
Researching Your Competition
Using tools for SEO keyword research also helps you to have a better understanding of what your competition is doing. The Google Keyword Tool has a component where you can enter a website, including that of your competition. This search provides you with a list of keyword and phrase matches, as well as the search volumes for the keywords. Then, you can determine whether or not to use the same information on your content or focus on other areas based on what your competition is doing.
This might also help you find information that expands your SEO strategy, especially if you do not have a large marketing budget and wish to target areas that are under targeted. Sometimes going after your competitors’ keywords allows you to kill two birds with one stone. You can go after keywords that appeal to your target market while also gaining an advantage over competitors vying for the same keywords.
Creating Better Content That Owns the Topic
Search engine rankings rely heavily on strong content. It is important to create relevant content that fully includes the nuances and niches of your business, which you now know after researching for keywords. It also needs to match your customers’ expectations for the results from their searches, which you also have a firm understanding of after you have explored keyword research and learned more about how customers use different languages. Additionally, content should be diverse while relevant, full of depth while remaining current.
When you have a complete understanding of all the different words associated with your topic, you will fully own it and create the best content possible. Keyword research opens up so many new areas of topics on which you can write so that you do not end up continually rehashing the same content over and over again on your blog or other mediums. You can also use them to improve any existing content by adding in some additional language and keyword phrases that help with your rankings.
Developing Better Metrics
When creating your SEO and digital marketing strategy, it is important to have a strong method of knowing what to expect. This assists you in creating realistic goals and parameters with which to assess the metrics. Researching into keywords provides you with an understanding of the efficacy of the keywords, as well as the competition. This ensures that your expectations remain realistic as you determine how to view the analytics and determine whether or not your efforts are working.
Also, by tracking the keywords you’re targeting in your content you may be able to identify keyword trends you can capitalize on. For instance, maybe writing about a certain niche product allows you to jump up the rankings quicker than another, more mainstream product. Or even just a certain type of query relating to your products and services seems to provide quicker results. Use your own metrics to help hone in on what keywords are performing better than others and take advantage of it!
Boosting Click Through Rates
Speaking of metrics, SEO research into keywords also helps you to improve them. The research you discover leads to creating more relevant pages, connecting better with customers, and developing the best possible content for your digital properties. Using the right keywords improves your traffic by increasing the page rankings. When customers land on relevant landing pages, your bounce rate decreases.
Appropriately using keywords also boosts the number of click-throughs you get from the SERPS. Using keywords correctly in your meta description and title tags does more than just help your rankings. It also matches your customer’s language to increase the chance that they will choose your page from the results page over your competition.
SEO Keyword Research: More than Meets the Eye
As you can see, there are many uses for keywords throughout the entire marketing funnel. Because of this, keyword research still plays a vital role in your SEO strategy. Although Google might not search exclusively for keywords anymore, these important phrases still have a major role to play in developing the best SEO strategy to help you reach your business goals.