Now that you know how to appear in search results, let's determine which strategic keywords to target in your website content and how to craft your content to meet the needs of users and search engines.The power of keyword research lies in gaining a better understanding of your target market and how they search for your content, services or products.
Keyword research gives you specific search data that can help you answer questions like:
- What are people looking for?
- How many people are looking for it?
- What format of information do they want?
In this chapter, you'll gain tools and strategies to uncover this information, as well as strategies to help you avoid keyword research pitfalls and build strong content.Once you discover how your target audience is searching for your content, you begin to discover a whole new world of strategic SEO!
Before doing keyword research, ask questions
Before you can help a business grow through SEO, you must first understand who they are, who their customers are, and what their goals are.
This is where people often take shortcuts.Too many people bypass this critical planning step because keyword research takes time, so why spend it when you already know you want to rank?
The answer is that what you want to rank for and what your audience really wants are often two very different things.Focusing on your audience and then using keyword data to hone those insights will be more successful than focusing on arbitrary keywords.
Here is an example. Frankie & Jo's (a Seattle-based vegan gluten-free ice cream shop) heard about SEO and wanted to help improve how and how often they appeared in organic search results.To help them, you first need to know more about their customers.To do this, you can ask the following questions: Who/What/When/Why/How/Where
- What types of ice cream, desserts, snacks, etc. are people looking for?
- Who is searching for these terms?
- When are people looking for ice cream, snacks, desserts and more. ?
- Are there seasonal trends throughout the year?
- How do people find ice cream?
- What words do they use?
- What questions do they ask?
- Do more searches on mobile?
- Why are people looking for ice cream?
- Are individuals specifically looking for health-conscious ice cream, or just to satisfy a sweet tooth?
- Where are potential customers located?Local, national or international?
- Finally - and here's the key - how can you help provide the best content about ice cream to foster a community and achieve what all these people are looking for?Asking these questions is a key planning step that will guide your keyword research and help you produce better content.
- What does this word mean?
Remember, if you're stumped by any of the terms used in this chapter, our SEO glossary is here to help!
What terms are people looking for?
You may have a way of describing what you do, but how does your audience search for the products, services or information you offer?Answering this question is a crucial first step in the keyword research process.
You probably have some keywords that you want to rank for.These will be your website addresses like your products, services, or other topics, and they are great seed keywords for your research, so start there!You can enter these keywords into a keyword research tool to discover the average monthly search volume and similar keywords.In the next section, we'll take a deeper look at search volume, but during the discovery phase, it can help you determine which variations of your keyword are the most popular among searchers.
Once you've entered your seed keywords into a keyword research tool, you'll start uncovering other keywords, FAQs, and content topics you might have missed.
Let's take the example of a flower shop that specializes in weddings.
Type "wedding" and "floral shop" into a keyword research tool and you may find highly relevant, highly searched related terms such as:
- wedding bouquet
- bridal flower
- wedding flower shop
During the process of finding relevant keywords for your content, you may notice a large variation in search volume for these keywords.While you definitely want to target the term your audience is searching for, but in some cases it may be more beneficial to target terms with lower search volume because they are much less competitive.
Because both high and low competition keywords are good for your website, so learning more about search volume can help you determine your keyword’spriority, and choose those keywords that will give your site the greatest strategic advantage.
It's important to note that entire sites don't rank for keywords - pages do.For big brands, we often see homepage rankings for many keywords, but for most sites this is usually not the case.Many websites receive more page traffic than the homepage, which is why it’s so important to diversify your website pages by optimizing each page for unique keywords of value.
How often are these terms searched?
Discover search volume
The higher the search volume for a given keyword or keyword phrase, the more work it usually takes to rank higher.This is often referred to as keyword difficulty, and occasionally includes SERP features; for example, difficulty increases if many SERP features (such as feature snippets, knowledge graphs, carousels, etc.) block the keyword's results page.Big brands often occupy the top ten for high-volume keywords,So if you're just starting to search the web for the same keywords, the uphill battle to rank can take years.
Generally, the greater the search volume, the greater the competition and effort required to achieve organic ranking success.However, if the search rate is too low, you risk not attracting any searchers to your site.In many cases, targeting highly specific, less competitive search terms may be most beneficial.In SEO, we call them long tail keywords.
understand the long tail
It would be great to be able to rank 1 for the keyword "shoes". . .Still will?
It's great to deal with keywords that have 50000 searches per month, or even 5000 searches per month, but in reality, these popular search terms make up a tiny fraction of all searches on the web.In fact, keywords with very high search volume may even indicate unclear intent, and if you target those terms, you risk attracting visitors to your site whose goals don’t match the content of your page.
Use search volume for strategic information
Now that you've found relevant search terms for your site and their corresponding search volumes, you can gain more strategic information by looking at your competitors and finding out how searches differ by season or location.
Keywords by competitor
You may compile a lot of keywords.How do you know which to deal with first?It may be a good idea to prioritize a large number of keywords that your competitors are not currently ranking for.On the other hand, you can also see from your list which keywords your competitors are already ranking for and prioritize those keywords.The former is great when you want to take advantage of opportunities that your competitors are missing, while the latter is an aggressive strategy that lets you compete for keywords that your competitors are already doing well.
Keywords by season
Understanding seasonal trends can help with content strategy.For example, if you know that "Christmas Box" starts to proliferate in the UK from October to December, you can prepare content months in advance and promote it heavily during those months.
You can target specific locations more strategically by narrowing your keyword searches to specific towns, counties, or states in Google Keyword Planner, or evaluating "Interest by Subregion" in Google Trends.Geo-specific research helps make your content more relevant to your target audience.For example, you might find that in Texas the preferred term for large trucks is "big rig", while in New York "towing trailer" is the preferred term.