In a world of digital marketing, it is argued that keyword research is one of the most crucial elements of SEO. Keyword research is the foundation of an SEO strategy and is one of the most valuable steps a business can practise in order to optimise their site and outrank competitors.
What is keyword research?
Keyword research is the exercise of identifying popular words and phrases people enter into search engines. A large part of keyword research involves taking the time to understand your audience to get an insight into the keywords that your audience is using. From this, research websites can base key content around these search terms to provide your target audience with the information they are looking for!
Using specialist SEO tools, such as SEMrush and Google AdWords Keyword Planner will provide information like the search volume of specific terms, keyword suggestions and how difficult they would be to rank for on SERPs (Search Engine Results Page). Finding the right keywords is essential in order to be seen online by potential customers.
5 effective keyword research tips that will help improve your SEO
1. Know your audience
Before carrying out any type of keyword research, being familiar with your target audience is a crucial step in order to know what people are searching to find your services or products.
Effective keyword research requires an in-depth evaluation of your own brand identity, your target customer/audience and your chosen industry. Using platforms like Google Analytics will tell you exactly who visits your website, how they got there and what pages on your site are generating the most traffic. It is important to know what keywords are already being used in the route to your website, and spotting the potential areas for keywords you are missing out on.
2. Identify the difference between short-tail keywords and long-tail keywords
Learning about choosing the right keywords for your site is a step in the right direction to being successful. Not all keywords are equal, some will perform better than others and it is important to know why.
A Short-tail keyword or a primary keyword, commonly has a high monthly search volume and is usually a more generic and non-specific query/ word.
Here is an example of a short-tail keyword:
The more people searching for a high-volume keyword, the higher the competition there will be for ranking on SERPs. It is important to note that a keyword doesn’t have to just be one singular word and short-tail keywords can contain three words or less.
Although short-tail keywords are normally extremely competitive, it doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be targeted. It is worth highlighting that primary keywords are often boosted by secondary keywords, so using a well rounded mixture of keywords on your site will be valuable.
Long- tail Keywords
A long-tail keyword or a secondary keyword is a compilation of several keywords that typically have a low to medium search volume and are a more specific enquiry.
It could be argued that users searching with long-tail keywords have a more specific buyer intent, therefore are a better audience to capture.
Here is an example of a long-tail keyword:
Choosing keywords that have a lower search volume and ones that are more specific, will set you apart from your competition. Including long-tail keywords in relevant content on your site such as blog posts, FAQ’s and “how to guides” will boost the authority of your content, giving you a better chance of ranking higher up on the search page. Targeting as many relevant long tail keywords as possible in your content, will hopefully get you a steady flow of highly targeted traffic to your site.
Deciding how broad or specific you want your keyword focus to be is relative to the products or the services your website offers. As a good rule of thumb, it is important to focus on the keywords that are relevant to your products or services, not too competitive to rank for, and have an overall healthy monthly search volume.
3. Research what keywords you are currently ranking for
Checking where your website’s pages rank on search engines is an essential task that every SEO specialist should do. Knowing what organic position your URLs are in for various keywords helps you understand where your website is doing well and what areas need to be improved.
Using popular SEO tools like Rankactive and Ahrefs can supply these figures. This information can then accelerate the process of determining what campaigns need to be optimised in order to significantly increase your overall search ranking.
It is important to note that tracking multiple keywords at one time is a beneficial practise in order to evaluate the impact of your efforts from optimising particular keywords.
4. Scope out your competition
Having an insight on the competition allows you to have a better understanding of their actions online, it is valuable to learn from both their successes and their mistakes. You can gauge an idea of what keywords they’re targeting, as well as the ones they are not ranking for- which then gives you your window of opportunity.
Knowing the keywords your competitors rank for gives you an idea of their SEO strategy. This indicates what type of content they are creating, which is useful to see if there are any content topics you might have not encountered on your own.
Through effective competitor keyword research, you can establish what kind of SEO strategies work best for your website and what you need to do to separate yourself from the companies that you are competing against online.
5. Include an FAQ’s page on your website
Many successful websites will have an FAQ section which answers common queries from customers with useful information. Search engines and people love the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) pages. Having a well-written and optimised FAQ section on your website is a great way to show potential online customers that you care about their experience.
You can directly respond to the needs of your audience’s search queries while including long-tail keywords through FAQ’s to optimise your on-page SEO and increase your authority in Google’s eyes.
Rounding up Thoughts about Keyword Research
Keyword research isn’t all about finding words that your audience may be searching for, it is more about finding quality keywords that are going to make positive impacts on your site.
Remember, that although keyword research is important, so is optimising your on-page SEO content for your chosen keywords. Read our blog about SEO content for useful tips for optimising your website content for Google, here.