Keywords are known as the critical foundation of your website SEO and ranking. No matter how hard you try, you will not get traffic from Google if nobody searches for what you’re writing about.
Despite all the many SEO practice changes over the years, keyword research remains one of the most fundamental SEO tasks.
Thus, it is essential to run in-depth keyword research, especially for a new site. Learning to do good keyword research and analysis is one of the most valuable skills you can build to ensure your website well performance and good SEO.
What is Keyword Research?
Keyword research is a practice SEO professionals use to discover and determine the most important keywords for a particular website and business’s objectives.
In other words, keyword research is the process of finding not only the keywords your business need to rank for but also the ones you should rank for based on what people or your target audience need and search for.
If done adequately, keyword research will also help yield the relevant topics and subject matter for your business to create content that will be highly relevant on your website.
During keyword research, if done correctly, you may also uncover competitors’ keywords that rank for which you are not, and this will eventually lead to critical insights for your SEO strategy and your business.
Is Keyword Research Important?
Keyword research is highly critical for businesses to find out what their target audience is searching to get into their services, information or items. Every business owner should realise the importance and the need to know this to avoid creating content that nobody is searching for.
According to a study, 90.63% of pages get no traffic from Google. This can be avoided with adequate keyword research before posting content on your business website.
Keyword research will also help businesses find out:
- The difficulty of a keyword to rank
- The volume of traffic for the keyword
- The type of content to create for the keyword
- The right target audience and potential clients
Among essential insights you can get from in-depth keyword research: the list of easy keywords to rank, rank your keywords, and which keywords your competitors are ranking for. Keyword research can also tell you what people are searching precisely for rather than what you think they are searching for.
Keyword research should be the main agenda of your business digital marketing campaign. Here’s why:
- Understanding your brand and business with the right keywords
- Learning where you rank for keywords, which keywords are easy to rank for, and which keywords your competitors are ranking for
- Understanding what people or your target audience are searching for
Although keyword research is the starting point for any digital marketing campaign, it should be an ongoing process. As a business owner, you must check your keywords and determine how you rank compared to your competitors.
Now that you have understood the importance of keyword research, let us look at the steps and processes in finding keyword ideas for your business.
How to Find Keywords Ideas?
The first step in keyword research is to find out how potential customers might be searching for your business or website. You can then use the keyword research tools to expand on those ideas and find even more keywords.
Keyword research, although a simple process, needs to be done correctly. As a business owner, you should:
- Have extensive knowledge of your industry.
- Understand how keyword research tools work and how to leverage them.
This article will go through a few steps to enhance your understanding of your industry and how keyword research tools work for your website in the process.
- Brainstorm ‘seed’ keywords
- Learn the keywords your competitors rank for
- Leveraging keyword research tools
- Niche study
Brainstorm ‘Seed’ Keywords
Seed keywords help you define your niche and identify your competitors, often known as the keyword research process’s foundation. Every keyword research tool will require a seed keyword, which it then uses to generate a massive list of keyword ideas.
Coming up with your business seed keywords is easy once your business is already on the run. All you need to do is think and assume what your target audience is searching on Google for the products or services that you offer.
Remember that seed keywords are not enough to be used to target customers to your page. As the name suggests, seed keywords will be used as ‘seeds’ for the next steps in the keyword research process.
Now that you have figured out the seed keywords for your business, it is now time to move on to the next step.
Learn the Keywords Your Competitors Rank For
The first step in finding out the list of keywords your competitors rank for is identifying your competitors. Then, the rest of the process will be handy. All you need to get done is a Google search on your seed keywords to capture all the competitors’ websites that rank on the first page.
If none of the top-ranking websites for your seed keywords is like your site, try searching for relevant ‘autosuggest’ queries instead.
For example, if you sell women’s clothing, you might find more actual competitors in the search results for “women’s clothing supplier” than “dresses.” That’s because it’s mostly e-commerce stores like yours ranking for the former and blogs ranking for the latter.
Essentially, you will still need to use your best judgment when determining your competitors. Always remember to look for websites that resemble yours or which you are trying to become.
Once you locate the businesses that fit the criteria, you can insert these websites into a tool like Ahrefs’ Site Explorer to do an in-depth analysis and checking. You will then be able to see all of their ranked pages. This is where you need to find out their top keywords and figure out which keywords send the most traffic to their website.
Once you figured that out, you can then leverage the keywords for your own.
Leveraging on Keyword Search Tools
Now that you have learned who your competitors are and the keywords they are ranking for, you can move on to the next step. Finding other keywords that can be useful and those your competitors aren’t targeting can help your business. And you can find these using keyword research tools.
There are plenty of free keyword research tools that you can use, some of which allow you to pull keyword ideas from their database based on the keyword that you put.
There are also professional, paid keyword research tools available for you to use.
We will list the most valuable and practical keyword search tools for your business to leverage on a later topic.
Although every step that we have gone through so far is sufficient to provide you with a substantial amount of keywords ideas, you also need to study your business niche. This will give a more powerful and more extensive understanding of how your potential customers think.
An excellent way to start studying your business niche is by going through industry forums, groups and other discussion and Q&A sites.
Besides joining forums, your existing customers can also be your source of understanding. Try and talk to them to figure out the things they are struggling with and the kind of services they would appreciate.
That will give you more ideas on the keywords to use for your website.
The Keyword Research Process
Keyword research is something every business owner should do continuously. This is because a market situation might change over time due to:
- The shifting needs of your target consumers.
- New queries or terms searchers are being used.
- New competitors were entering the market.
- Changes to search engine algorithms or search features.
Thus, in ensuring your website stays up to date, always remember to make the keyword research process one of your regular habits for good SEO health and growth.
There are many practical ways to approach keyword research, but in this guide, we will follow these steps:
- Analyse current keywords.
- Formulate your goals.
- Build your keyword “wish” list.
- Assess the competitive landscape.
- Expand your keyword horizons.
- Prioritise by opportunities vs investment.
Step 1: Analyse Current Keywords
Start by analysing your current keywords if you already have an existing website that you are currently working on, with the list of existing products or services.
Analyse the performance of your current keywords. This can be done with free ranking tools available online.
Next, use Google Search Console to determine what keywords your site already ranks for (if any).
Your goal here is to establish a baseline of keyword performance.
Step 2: Formulate Your Goals
Next, formulate your business goals to avoid your keyword research process being a futile effort.
Keyword research will often turn up keywords that you could rank for, but if they are not keywords that will attract visitors who can become the solutions to the needs stated in your goals, they won’t be worth the effort you’d put into trying to rank for them.
In my opinion, this is the most overlooked step in typical keyword research efforts.
Having goals will help improve your chances of SEO success.
Plus, you’ll save more time and effort than necessary – and avoid targeting irrelevant terms (so-called vanity keywords) or keywords with little or no return on investment (ROI).
To formulate your business goals, consider getting the understanding of:
- Your target audience
- Your product or service value in the marketplace
- The needs of your target audience
- The secondary needs of your target audience
- The essential factor in helping your target audience make decisions about your product or services.
Understanding the above concerns will help you to focus on the keywords that will matter to your business.
Step 3: Build Your Keyword ‘Wish List’
Once you have figured out the essential elements in Step 2, combined with your business or industry experience, list out the keywords you think best describe your potential customers search for when they are in various phases of their buyer journey.
- What would they search for when they are just trying to educate themselves about the kinds of things you sell?
- What would they search for when trying to make an informed decision about who to buy from?
- What would they search for when they want to purchase specific things you sell?
The purpose of these brainstormed lists is similar to the purpose of Step 2:
To provide some guidance in your research in determining what matters for your business.
Don’t assume that the keywords you come up with from this exercise are all valuable.
Step 6 will, among other things, help you determine that.
Step 4: Assess the Competitive Landscape
One of the best sources to find keywords you should be ranking for but aren’t yet is your competitors.
If they’ve been in the game longer than you, they have probably uncovered and capitalised on many more opportunities, whether they found them by careful research or just stumbled upon them.
Many SEO tools will show you the top-ranking keywords for a given domain, but you may need to invest in one of the paid tools to delve into all the levels I discuss below.
Step 5: Expand Your Keyword Horizons
While keywords are still foundational to good SEO, optimising them alone will only get you so far.
Over the years, Google has vastly improved its ability to recognise topics and related terms, so now every keyword is the gateway to a topical universe.
There are several free tools designed specifically for suggesting related topics for any given keyword.
Some of the most popular include:
- Answer the Public
- Keyword Explorer
- Keywords Everywhere
Find more in this list of free tools here on Search Engine Journal.
Most of these tools work by scraping Google SERPs (and sometimes the sites that rank highest there) to discover the search terms and questions searchers use most frequently for a given topic or keyword.
As always, some paid tools will give you more depth, including terms semantically related to your keywords.
As a final step, look through your now-expanded keyword list to pick out the high-level topics, then group the remaining keywords under these according to relevance.
You can use this organised list later to guide you in building out interlinked content that will give you broader topical relevance with search engines.
Step 6: Prioritise by Opportunities vs Investment
This final step in the keyword research process is a critical bridge to converting what you discovered in your investigation into actions that lead to results.
In this process, you should prioritise the keywords that not only will help you rank but those you will not need to spend too much time and money on.
Popular keywords are usually challenging to rank for, typically because too many competitors are willing to spend time and pay a higher cost for them. Thus, find the right keywords you can use and leverage.
Tools for Keyword Research
There are many free keyword research tools available for the use of your business. Let’s glance at a few popular keyword research tools that will help you do everything discussed above.
- Google Keyword Planner (Free) – for its unique keyword suggestions and up-to-date CPC values.
- Google Trends (Free) – for trend comparisons and researching the geography of trends.
- Google Search Console (Free) – best use to analyse the keywords you already rank and the traffic those keywords contribute to your website (top 1,000 keywords only).
- Ahrefs Webmaster Tools (Free) – best use to analyse the keywords you already rank with their estimated search volumes, traffic potential, keyword difficulty scores and other SEO metrics.
- Keyword Generator (Free) – for generating hundreds of free keyword ideas from a seed keyword.
- Keyword Difficulty Checker (Free) – for checking the ranking difficulty of a keyword, as per Ahrefs’ Keyword Difficulty (KD) score.
- Keyword Rank Checker (Free) – for checking where you rank for any keyword in any country.
- Keywords Explorer – this tool will help you find thousands of keyword ideas, filter the keyword ideas, and assess their traffic potential and ranking difficulty with ease.
Are You Ready to Get Your Keyword Research Started?
Now that we have gone through the importance of keyword research for your business, the steps to find keyword ideas, and the thorough process of keyword research that may work for your business, it is time for you to take matters into your own hands.
Once you are done with the proper keyword research for your brand and business, remember to put your time and effort into instilling the keywords into your website content and ensure a good SEO for your website.
Should you need further assistance, be sure to contact us or share with us your contact information for our team to get back to you at your earliest convenience.