People perform over 40,000 Google searches per second. With numbers like that, you need to ensure your SEO keyword research is at the top of its game. But what exactly is keyword research and how can you best leverage it in 2019?
Here’s everything you need to know about keyword research: what it is and a detailed breakdown of how to do it.
What is SEO Keyword Research?
Keyword research is the practice of finding and researching the search terms users enter into search engines. The knowledge garnered from keyword research has a number of applications, including:
- Informing content strategy
- Helping develop customer personas
- Informing overall marketing strategies
Keyword research helps you understand your target audience’s wants and needs. And once you know what your audience wants, you can better target your service or product to meet those wants.
Now that you know what keyword research is, how do you go about doing it?
1. Make a List of Topics Related to Your Business
To compile this list you must first know your business inside out. To do this ask yourself:
- Who are you?
- What do you do?
- What makes your product or service different?
Answering these questions will give you what’s known in the entrepreneurial world as a Unique Selling Proposition or USP. The USP doesn’t just benefit your SEO efforts, it can also help inform your marketing and sales efforts as a whole.
Once you have your USP, ask yourself what topics are relevant to your business. These can be as specific as what sort of product you sell right down to as tangential as what products are related to those you sell.
For example, a plant nursery might list a topic like “plants for sale”. A tangential topic associated with such a business might be “plant care”.
The key here is to put yourself in the shoes of your target audience. People interested in buying plants are likely to be interested in plants as a whole and so their search terms are likely to include topics about plant care and maintenance.
2. Make a List of Keywords Based on Those Topics
Now that you have some general topics to focus on it’s time to identify the specific phrases people will use to search for them. These phrases are known as keywords.
This initial phase is purely brainstorming. You’re essentially putting yourself in your target audience’s shoes and coming up with some possible keywords they’d use to search for your identified topics.
To continue our nursery example, some keywords an SEO specialist might brainstorm include:
- Plant food
- Best plants for indoors
- Succulent care
- When to water succulents
- How to propagate plants in the summer
Your list should be extensive to give your targeting efforts as broad a reach as possible.
3. Research Terms Related to Those Keywords
This is where you get more creative – brainstorming keywords tangentially related to the terms you’ve already come up with. It’s a particularly useful step if you’re struggling to come up with a comprehensive list of keywords.
One of the best ways to find related terms is to let Google do the hard yards for you. Google each of your already brainstormed keywords and scroll to the bottom of the search results. There you’ll find a list of suggestions for searches related to your original keyword input.
4. Ensure You’re Targeting Both Head and Long-Tail Keywords
Head and long-tail keywords refer to the length of the keyword in question. Head keywords are typically one to three words long while long-tail keywords contain full phrases of three or more words.
An example of a head keyword might be “plants”. Head keywords typically cover a broad subject. They generate a lot of web traffic but they’re also more competitive because so many people are trying to rank for them.
Head keywords also tend to convert less than long-tail keywords. This is because head keywords aren’t specific. Someone Googling “plants” might want to buy plants, care for plants, or learn about plants – because their intent isn’t clear from their input, it’s harder to serve them actionable content.
Long-tail keywords, on the other hand, are super specific. An example of a long-tail keyword might be “Where to buy succulents in Texas”. It’s specific and shows intent – this person wants to buy succulents in Texas.
Because long-tail keywords are so specific they’re less competitive than head keywords. The flip-side, of course, is that they also generate less traffic. That said, the traffic they do generate is more likely to convert.
When brainstorming your keywords, you should ensure you’re targeting both head and long-tail keywords. This ensures you’re getting the best of both worlds: high-traffic, specificity, and better conversions.
5. Make Use of the Google Adwords Keyword Planner
Now that you have a mix of keywords, it’s time to narrow down your list with some quantitative data. To do this, you’ll make use of two SEO keyword tools:
- Google AdWords Keyword Planner
- Google Trends
The Google Adwords Keyword Planner will give you search volume and traffic estimates based on the keywords you input. It essentially gives you a snapshot of what results you can expect from each of your prospective keywords.
Where the keyword planner gives you a snapshot of the present, Google Trends allows you to look into the past of your prospective keywords to see how they used to rank. It also offers you projections for the future performance of keywords.
Combined, these tools will help you narrow down your keyword choices to target relevant keywords now and into the future.
Become an SEO Keyword Research Expert
A comprehensive SEO keyword research strategy is essential for success in today’s online world. Now you know everything there is to know about keyword research: what it is, how to do it, and how it can help your website generate more traffic.
Looking to better streamline your marketing processes? Here’s how to choose the best marketing automation tool for your business.