Keyword research is an important starting point for any web marketing campaign, but few businesses are prepared to allocate resources to this vital step. Knowing how to perform keyword research efficiently is a huge advantage for any entrepreneur seeking to take their business to the next level.
However, before anything else, let’s clarify some basic concepts. What is keywords research and why do you have to do it?
Keywords research is the process of finding the right keywords that actual people use to find businesses, topics, ideas, and solutions to their concerns. Your customers, for instance, type in highly specific keywords into Google, Bing, or Facebook to find the products or services they are looking for.
Knowing what keywords your customers and prospects use to offer a distinct advantage once you start creating content or product titles to match those keywords. The idea here is for your content or product page to appear (rank) in the search results whenever people type in those keywords.
Of course, ranking for keywords, particularly those that are highly competitive is a challenge in itself, but you will never be able to get to that stage if you do not have the right keywords, in the first place.
In this article, I am going to show you some necessary steps on how to perform keyword research to harness the full potential of your content marketing strategies:
Start With Seed Keywords
Begin by focusing on your target market and drill down into the specific niche that your business caters to. The deeper you can dive into a niche, the more specific and profitable the keywords you will find.
Once you have the big picture of your target market or niche, start by brainstorming keywords that you feel people are using to find out about your topic or the products and services you offer.
Remember, there’s no right or wrong way about this step. List down all possible keywords that you can think of; you can pare down your list to include only effective keywords in the next steps in this guide.
Find Which Keywords You Already Rank For
Look at the Search Analytics in your Google Search Console account to get a clearer idea which of your pages are already ranking for which keywords in Google. This is an essential step because it is easier to work on improving your ranking for those keywords than to start from scratch with more difficult keywords you are not yet ranking for.
Research Competitor Keywords
If you have been running your business for some time now, you should be pretty aware of who your most successful competitors are. They are raking it in because chances are, they are already ranking high in the search results for those keywords your prospects are using to locate your services or products.
You can augment your keywords list with profitable keywords by taking a peek at what your competitors are ranking or paying for. Tools like Spyfu and Ahrefs’ Site Explorer make this process easy to perform and soon you will have a whole bunch of new keywords to aim for.
Use Keywords Research Tools
There’s a good number of great keywords research tools that you can use once you get to this stage. Some, like Google Adwords Keyword Planner, are free to use while others such as Moz Keyword Explorer or SerpStat require a monthly paid subscription.
Whatever tool you will use, always remember to focus on the important metrics for each keyword, as discussed below. For those on a budget, Google Adwords Keyword Planner is free to use and would make a good starting point to explore the different keywords related to your business, products, or services. Plug in your initial seed keywords into the tool, and you will be presented with a list that includes such criteria as search volume and clickthrough rate.
Be Mindful of Keyword Metrics
Not all keywords are created equal. Some keywords are more profitable while others are a total waste of your time. It is vital that you can make out this distinction quickly and the fastest way to do that would be to take a closer look at the metrics and criteria generated by your keyword tool.
Is the keyword worth pursuing? Are there enough people searching for that keyword monthly to make it lucrative? Metrics like search volume will give you a better idea of how profitable a keyword is to you so always review these when finalizing your keywords list.
Distinguish Between Long-Tail Keywords and Head Terms
Head terms are super competitive keywords that you will find tough to rank for. These are top generic keywords that aren’t often used in searches or are not very precisely profitable but still receive vast amounts of traffic each month.
For example, “guitar” is a generic head term and obviously, if you are searching for a specific guitar to buy, you will be adding more qualifiers to that term. Using our head term, if you add more specific terms to it such as “Fender Stratocaster Electric Guitar Brooklyn” it now becomes what is termed as a long-tail keyword.
By definition, long-tail keywords have fewer searches per month, but because these are very granular and specific, there’s a good chance that the searcher has firm intention to make a purchase. If you are looking for low-hanging keywords to aim for, a good strategy would be to go after as many long-tail keywords as you can provide these have just enough number of searches per month. It all adds up, you will see.
Group Your Keywords
We are almost done. By this time you have a reasonably decent keywords list that you can use to start your campaign. Hopefully, you have paid attention to the metrics we discussed earlier so that your final list will contain only those keywords that will make a difference to your business.
The next step is to group your keywords according to its category or topic. This step is not mandatory but will come in handy if you are mapping out the topics and categories you want to include in your content marketing campaign. A grouped list will also be useful if you are planning to do a paid search campaign on a platform like Google Adwords or Bing Ads.
Choose Initial Keywords To Aim For
Now that you have your substantive list of keywords grouped neatly into topic groups, the degree of difficulty, keyword type, commercial intent, etc. it is time to prioritize which keywords to work on first. For example, if you want to generate a stream of revenue for your business quickly, then you might want to go for those keywords with high commercial intent and business value.
Businesses that neglect keywords research at the start of their marketing efforts inevitably finds themselves unable to find any permanent traction to get to the next level and will have to get back to this important initial step, sooner or later.
Now that you have a better understanding of how to perform keyword research more effectively, I hope that this can help you achieve your own goals for your business. If you have any tips or tricks about keywords research you would care to share; please leave a comment below.