What is Keyword Research and why do I need to do it

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Keyword research is an essential key element when starting any form of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) on your website.  Search Engine Marketing is a very competitive market and it’s only set to grow and grow with consumers continually choosing to surf the web over visiting the high street.  Keyword research allows you to find out the most searched keywords people are using to find the products you are looking to promote and more importantly what your competitors are doing.  Keyword research can be daunting for any business and you may find that you’d prefer to enlist the help of a digital agency to advise on the best course for your business.  

Keyword discovery

Finding out how people are searching online is the first step in keyword research.  As a business you know what it is you are providing, but you need to figure out what people type into a search engine to actually find the product or service you provide.

You should have a rough idea on some keywords that are likely to represent your business, so this is a good starting point in discovering the best keywords.  Enter these keywords into any keyword research tool like SEMrush and Google Search Console and UberSuggest for extra keyword suggestions.  These tools will allow you see the average search volume and the competitiveness for these keywords whilst also offering new keywords that you probably haven’t considered.

Which keywords do I want to try and target?

As a business you’re aiming for those top spots on a search engine and it can be tempting to try and focus on the high search volume keywords but with that comes the risk that these are the most competitive and can be hard to achieve.  That being said it’s still worth targeting these in your overall strategy.

With this in mind it’s often recommended to include the lower volume keywords which are less competitive as these are far more achievable.

Putting all of the above so far into a spreadsheet you can analyse your most popular keywords and prioritise where you want to focus your energy.

Competitor Research

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Unless you offer something completely unique, you are going to have competitors who are going to be ranking and competing for the same market as you.  The next step in keyword research is having a look at what your competitors are doing. Finding your competitors is as simple as searching in Google using the keywords identified and looking at everyone ranked in the top 20 and determining who your top 5 competitors are.

From here you should then look at how powerful your competitor domains are, using metrics like Trust Flow and the number of backlinks they have pointing to their pages using a tool like Majestic and finally how much traffic they are getting and from where using SEMrush or similar.

This information helps piece together a bigger strategy plan where you then need to decide if you want to target the big competitors or the middle range competitors.

Keyword breakdown

Often keyword research can throw up hundreds of possible keywords you can use, so the next step would be to analyse the keywords further filtering the list down until you get a much more manageable keyword list.  Part of this process is deciding if your website is powerful enough to compete for a particular keyword and if you have the resources and time to build backlinks and content for your site to affect the rankings.

Now you’ve got your list of keywords, the ideal way to move forward is to group the keywords together based on category and user journey adopting a strategy that focuses on a cluster of keywords rather than individual keywords.  This way you can create a content plan that targets the same type of keywords all at once and thus having an impact over a larger set of keywords.

Lets get ranking!

You’ve performed all the tasks mentioned and now you need to start getting your website ranking, but how do you do this?

Firstly you should create new or update your on-site content to include the keywords you’ve identified.  It’s important at this stage to not include too many keywords into the content but for it to be a natural addition, don’t forget that real people will be reading your page and it needs to make sense.  Keywords ideally should appear in the headline, any sub headers and a couple of times in the main body of content.  

Once your happy that your on-site content is optimised the next step is to start building links to that content which is a whole other process and one you can read more about here.

There’s no doubt that keyword research and acting on it is a large part of your SEO strategy and can take a considerable amount of time, but once done you will have a much clearer idea on how to drive your business higher up the ranks.