Keyword research is the process of discovering keywords, phrases related your business that your audience will type into search engines or in simple words, how your users will find you online. It is arguably one of the most important elements of SEO, without keyword research your whole effort of SEO will be highly non-effective. You can’t write relevant content for your website if you don’t know the correct keyword phrases which people will use to discover it. You can’t optimise your pages without knowing which phrases you should optimise for.
Previously Google’s algorithm used to match keywords entered in the search engine to keywords on the web page. It was very important to create content that included the same match keyword phrases. But Google’s algorithm has evolved to entity-based search now you don’t have to worry about matching exact keyword phrases. You just have to match the intent behind the search. This simply means matching with the main concept of what the searchers are looking for and not just the matching words and phrases. Keyword research helps you in knowing what your potential audience relates to or the things they care about when they are online.
Now, I am going to talk about the things you have to keep in mind while doing keyword research for your website or your clients.
1.BUSINESS AWARENESS AND UNDERSTANDING
Whether you are starting a keyword research project for your own business or your client, it is imperative to ask the right questions for a better understanding of a business. You have to understand what is the main motive of the business, who their customers are, what do these customers care about and then you have to align everything with goals of the business. Many marketers and agency go for shortcuts and jump right into making content and links for their business and give importance to certain concepts in order to rank their business but in this process, they forget their audience and potential customers because their audience might be looking for something else and might not care about the concept they are giving importance to.
So, you have to do research and focus on the potential customer. The audience which will help you understand how they fit in what the business is looking for. Asking questions is the most important aspect of your keyword research project. Every business is different and has different goals irrespective of being in a single vertical. For example, there are two businesses and they both deal in bicycles but one of them focusses on pushing new cycles while other deals majorly in used cycles. So, even after being in a single vertical, it would be illogical to provide them both with the same strategy.
Every business needs a different SEO strategy but how do you provide your clients or make one for your own business? The answer to this question is asking questions from the business itself. You should know what the business’ main goal is? What makes it tick? How does it operate? and What does it sell? Now, move on and ask about the customers and audience. Do you have a user persona? Do you know how your audience search? What are the seasonal trends in the audience’s behaviour?
Now comes the most important question that needs to be asked from the customers is “Why are they buying from you?” If they are buying from you then are you providing them solutions of their problems? You should also know what your customers are expecting from you so that you know how to satisfy their needs. Let your customers share their expertise and interact with them as much as you can.
Read more: How to create your content strategy
2. IMPORTANCE OF INTENT BEHIND THE QUERY
Now you have asked your questions and you have a better understanding of the business and your customers. In this point, I am going to talk about why search intent is important to your keyword research project. Search results of any query that are displayed are based on what google interprets as searchers intent. The meaning(intent) behind the search is more important than the actual keywords that are being searched. Google has classified searchers query intent as,
(a) know query
(b) do query
(c) website query
(d) visit in person query.
We’ll see how intent shapes search results, it is actually very hard to rank for queries where the user is looking for some information (query ‘a’) because google itself answers these queries in an answer box. For example, if someone wants to know who wrote a certain book then google will open an answer box with the name of the author without citing any other source because Google considers this to be public knowledge. Similarly, if a customer has a navigational query then they are looking for a particular destination on the internet. With a transactional query, the user is looking to buy or sign up for something. With a local intent query the user is looking for something in their local area, be it a local food joint, hair salon or a coffee shop around them.
Google will show them exactly what they are looking for in their local area. Before you sit down to compile your keyword phrases list test them on google. Google will identify what the intent behind the phrase is and you can figure that out by looking at the search results page. You should know why the customers are buying from you. You need to understand what is that problem and need you are solving for your customers. It will then become easy for you to understand how the customers will search for your business. It will automatically become easier to infer their “search intent”. Now, you’ll be able to make great and accurate content that addresses what the customers are looking for.
Read more: How to create your marketing strategy
3. TIME TO MAKE YOUR KEYWORD LIST
You’re now ready to make your keyword list after all the work you’ve put into understanding your business and your audience. All that knowledge you’ve gained will now help you in your keyword research project. Start by listing down important topics relevant to your business. Give equal value to the customers and what is important to them while you are curating your list. Next step would be to separate the tips into buckets so similar ideas can be grouped together. Then use your knowledge of the business to prioritize the buckets. Further, you need to finalise your concept bucket and start filling that bucket with new keywords by using new knowledge of your customer’s wants and needs.
Build new keyword phrases that those customers will use to search the business. You don’t need to come up with refined keywords just now. But make sure you include the keywords your business already ranks for on google. Use keyword research tools for more variations and related terms on phrases.
Now, I’ll take you to the difference between ‘fat head terms’ and ‘long-tail terms’. Fathead terms are the shorter terms that get the most monthly search volume. Long-tail terms are more descriptive and doesn’t get much monthly search volume. But that doesn’t simply mean you should be targeting the fat head terms with higher search volumes, as searches start to be more conversational there is a good opportunity for long-tail terms.
For example- If someone is searching for ‘Ice cream’ they are most likely browsing while someone who is searching for ‘Ice Age ice creams that doesn’t Melt’ is ready to buy immediately.
Now, you’ll need a keyword research tool which will show you monthly estimated search volume for each phrase. Use these estimates to prioritise your keywords. It is obvious that the keyword phrase with high search volumes becomes an important phrase to target. But that also means more competition because most businesses will target that head term with high traffic which will make it hard for you to rank. So, don’t ignore those long-tail terms because they might do wonders for your business.
After you’re done deciding which keyword phrases you’re going to target, you are done with your keyword research. Now, these phrases will become the foundation of your SEO strategy and will determine everything you do in future.
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