In the midst of ever-shifting marketing trends, keyword research is still the backbone of SEO. Choosing the right keywords can make or break your SEO, and it all starts with a well thought-out keyword research strategy.
Here are 5 tried and tested tips to help you with keyword research:
Start With Topics
Before you can build a list of specific keywords, you need to identify key topics that are relevant to your target audience.
Since Google uses complex algorithms that interpret search queries based on the intent behind the words rather than the individual words themselves, you need to figure out what it is that motivates users to search for your content. Organizing keywords under relevant topics can help you tailor your website content accordingly and make it easier for people to find you.
Say, for example, that you’re a dentist trying to get more potential clients to discover your website. Think of all the reasons why people go to the dentist and write down terms such as braces, veneers, fillings, gum disease, etc. These are your keyword topics that you will then use to group together more specific keywords.
Turn to Social Media
Once you’ve compiled your list of relevant keyword topics, you can start brainstorming longer keywords for each group. This is where social listening comes into play. Social media platforms have made it much easier for marketers to understand customer motivation. By using social media for keyword research you can find out how and why people are using specific keywords, which is an important component of an effective keyword strategy.
In other words, using social listening can help you figure out what longer keywords to use for each keyword topic. To return to the dentist example, if your keyword topic is “braces”, you need to monitor the way people talk about braces on social media in real time. So, the “braces” topic might include keywords such as “invisible braces for adults”, “dental braces for crooked teeth”, “lingual braces for overbites”, and so on.
Use Keyword Research Tools
Google Keyword Planner is an excellent keyword research tool that allows you to check how popular your keyword ideas have been in the past and create forecasts for specific keyword lists. Even though it is primarily designed for pay-per-click advertising, this tool has many useful features for SEO keyword research.
The Keyword Planner can help you discover new keywords, keep track of the changing search volume trends, and predict how well your keywords might perform in terms of click-through-rates, conversions, cost, and other metrics.
You can also customize your keyword research based on device type and location, and filter out keywords that don’t meet your requirements.
While Google Keyword Planner is a great keyword research tool for beginners, experienced marketers will usually combine it with other tools such as SEMrush, Ahrefs or the free Keyword Tool.io for a more well-rounded keyword research strategy.
Study Your Competitors
If you’re not keeping tabs on your competitors’ keywords, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to improve your SEO ranking. Analyzing competitors’ keyword strategy is a smart way to learn from others’ mistakes before you make your own.
There are several ways to find out what keywords your competitors rank for. The most straightforward method is to check out their website and find the HTML source code. All you need to do is right-click on the page and select “View Source”. Once you open the source code, search for the title tag, meta description tag, and image titles and look at the keywords that your competitor is using.
Another way to look up competitors’ keywords is to use the Google Keyword Planner. Just click on “Search for new keyword and ad group ideas” and enter the URL of your competitor’s website. The Planner will use the existing keywords from your competitors’ website to generate new ideas, which will give you a pretty clear overview of their keyword strategy.
There are also a number of other tools available for this purpose, including SpyFu, Moz Open Site Explorer, Alexa, and BuzzSumo.
Analyze Keyword Metrics
Once you’ve built a list of relevant keywords, you need to find a way to narrow down your choices and leave only the best-performing ones. If you don’t make an effort to understand keyword metrics, you’ll be stumbling in the dark trying to decide which keywords to choose.
The first metric you need to pay attention to is search volume, which tells you the number of times people have searched for a specific keyword during a particular period of time. Keep in mind though that choosing only keywords with high search volume means more competition. You should aim for keywords that have a solid monthly search volume for your niche and low competition level.
Google Keyword Planner, SEMRush, and Moz Keyword Explorer are just some of the tools you can use to get search volume data.
Another important metric is keyword difficulty, which helps you predict how likely it is for your website to rank for a certain keyword. Keyword difficulty tools take into account different factors, including the number of pages currently ranking for a specific keyword, and help you assess how you will fare against competitors using that keyword. To ensure best results, don’t forget to include priority and organic click-through-rate in your analysis for a more comprehensive keyword research strategy.