Keyword research (a.k.a. keyword analysis) is one of the most important, most valuable, and high return activity in the search engine optimization (SEO) marketing field.
Keyword research is the ways and means by which you get to know the actual search terms people enter into the search box while doing research at Google or at the other search engines in order to find the information or the product they need online. And the use of those terms to generate a large number of other keywords that are highly related to the discovered one.
Why you should research keywords
If you produce written copy, podcast audio, or video for YouTube, you must optimize your content for the search engines. This means writing in such a way that search engines can find and explore your content. But that does not amount to saying that you must produce content solely to satisfy the Google robot and the others. Rather, your utmost concern must be for your audience, and then only think about the keywords you will use in your title as well as sprinkle throughout your post.
You can achieve both by doing keyword research which will help you to understand online searchers better in terms of what they are looking for and the search terms they use to look for it, and use the results in your content creation to respond to that need.
Keyword research does not only help you to achieve better rankings in search engines and get relevant visitors to your site, but also it can help you better gauge the market so as to produce the exact products, services, and content that web searchers are actively looking for.
The 3 pillars of keyword research
The three important things you must mind when carrying out keyword research are:
1. Low competition: To achieve best results with SEO, it is imperative to gather the most relevant keywords. What this means is that you must focus on low competition keywords. The reason is simple: keywords that have too much competition are less likely to let you rank in the top of search engine results. And without being able to rank, you are not going to get any traffic.
2. Monthly searches: Just as with high competition keywords, high volume keywords won’t make you rank in the top. So, the second thing to look out for is low volume keywords. 50 searches a month could be a good idea. Imagine the total amount of traffic several of these 50 searches per month keywords could bring you!
3. Relevance to the theme and understandable to people: Gather keywords which are both related to your website’s theme and make sense to a human being. This is because search engine algorithm may exclude a website from search results simply because the keyword is not relevant to the content. Besides, keywords that don’t fit naturally into your copy—which are forced into a post just for ranking purposes—would make awkward sentences that a person wouldn’t understand. Remember the utmost concern for your audience?
Why ranking in the search engines matter
Ranking for the right keywords can mean the difference between your website getting more qualified traffic or little to no meaningful traffic at all. Lack of traffic could mean death for your website.
“Long tail” keywords
The long tail principle is used to illustrate ranking in search results. It says that while it is difficult to rank for a well-known competitive term, a longer phrase or a unique, unknown one can be used to achieve dazzling results.
Mathematically it makes sense to use keywords that have 5,000 searches a day, or even 500 searches a day. But in reality these popular search terms account for less than 30% of the searches performed on the web. The remaining (more than 70%) comes from the “long tail” of search. The long tail consists of hundreds of millions of unique searches conducted a few times a day but which taken together make up the majority of the web’s search volume.
Another advantage of the long tail keywords is that they catch people later in the buying or conversion cycle and therefore often convert better.
Take a person searching for “laptops” for instance. They may probably just be browsing and not really be ready to buy any computer at all. But the one searching for “best priced hp laptop” could possibly have their credit card out ready to type the details into the purchase form!
In order to know which keywords to target, two things are essential:
1. You must understand the demand for a given term or phrase
2. You must know the work required to achieve high rankings
Supposing you are just starting out online and the large brands occupy the top 10 results for the keywords you are targeting. It will certainly take you years of strenuous effort to get rankings for those terms. This is why understanding keyword difficulty is important.
Fortunately tools exist to provide you this information. Moz’s Keyword Analysis Tool is for example great help for collecting all of these metrics and providing a comparative score for any given search term or phrase.
Keyword research or suggestion tools
Keyword tools (both free and commercial) are available to help you find keywords and analyze them.
• Keyword research and management
• Website research and analysis
• Niche research refinement
• Domain flipping
• Accurate competition metric
2. Google Adwords Keyword Planner: This is the free tool Google offers for some basic keyword analysis. It:
• Gives you traffic estimates for the keyword
• Generates new keywords by combining different keyword lists
• Creates new keyword variations based on the initial keyword
It is important to know that the Google Adwords Keyword Planner views keywords through a pay-per-click Google Adwords lens, which is one of its limitations.
The other Google tools are the Google traffic estimator, Google Webmaster Tools, Google Suggest and Google Trends.
3. SEOmoz: can be used to provide a more detailed review.
4. Long Tail Pro: This keyword research software (not free) enables you to generate hundreds or thousands of unique “Long Tail” keywords from one single root keyword or multiple root keywords. This is especially useful in evaluating what your audience needs most.
The Long Tail Pro lets you:
• Search Multiple Keywords at the same time
• Generate up to 800 results per seed keyword
• Pre-filter keywords
• Automatically find Domains (This is really useful when looking for a domain for a new site)
• Find Google or Bing Title Competition
• Do competitor Analysis on top 10 Google Results
• Check Rankings of sites in Google, YahooYHOO +0.74%, and Bing
How to perform a keyword research
The following three steps are recommended when doing keyword research:
1. Brainstorming: After listing the phrases you’d like to rank well for, or the words you think your prospects would use when searching for your offer, brainstorm the list of keywords. This will help you to expand upon it to generate the best keyword phrases.
A series of questions are necessary in this regard:
a) Is the keyword relevant to your website’s content? That is, when people search with those keywords and come to your site, will they find what they are looking for? Will they be satisfied with what they find?
b) Will this traffic enable you to achieve your goals?
2. Testing: It’s now time to find out if your “best keywords phrases” will actually bring you enough traffic. By entering the phrases into the free Google Adwords Keyword Tool, you will find out how much competition you would face from other sites to rank well for each of those phrases, and how many people are actually searching for them. In short, the Google tool will tell you which of your words and phrases could drive the most qualified traffic to your website. Furthermore, the tool will provide you related keyword phrases that may perform better than those you had entered.
Searching for the term or phrase in the major search engines will also make you know which websites already rank for your keyword. This not only gives you valuable information about the competition but also lets you know how hard it will be to rank for the given term.
3. Rewriting: Now rewrite your posts by inserting your “best of the best keyword phrases” and especially the “cream of the best of the best keyword phrases” into strategic places on each page of your site, including the page title, any headers or sub headers, early and often in the body copy, as well as in the inward links which connect one page of your website to another.
Example of a keyword research
The keyword “top ten money making businesses” (without inverted commas) returned 1,290,000,000 search results on the Google search engine. This means that “top ten money making businesses” is a very popular and highly competitive keyword. Therefore millions of websites are competing for that keyword and so it is not a good keyword for you to use in an effort to get rankings. You therefore have to search for an alternative keyword. But “making money from home” returned 556,000,000 searches.
Now you look for all possible word combinations relevant to “making money from home”. An example could be “acquiring money” which has search results of 54,000,000. This is significantly less than the search results for “making money from home”, but it is still too high.
You would now add additional filters to “acquiring money”. Something like “acquiring money mind power and wealth” could be less competitive but maybe still not easier to rank for. You keep on adding filters this until you find the right keyword to rank for.
Know that search engines try to return relevant results when a person does a search. The closer the words on your web page, blog post, podcast audio or online video are to the search term that was entered, the more likely you are to rank higher for that search.
How to make keywords work for you
Improved search engine visibility rarely comes once and forever. To improve your search engine ranking and attract more qualified traffic to your website, you must keep on adding new, keyword rich content to your blog or website over time.
To help you check if you are attracting the required traffic, Google Analytics provide you two reports.
The first report is at Traffic Sources > Search Engine Optimization > Queries. There you will find your site’s average ranking for any keyword that “resulted in impressions, clicks and click-throughs” and thus know if you’re moving up or down over time.
The second one is available at Traffic Sources > Search Engine Optimization > Landing Pages. This will tell you how your individual pages are fairing from a search engine standpoint.
Finally, you will have to take a look at your overall search traffic and the number of leads your website is generating. Great if the number of leads you’re getting a month is increasing, otherwise your will have to do more work for your website to make a difference.
Some resources for you
Here are a few resources I have gathered to help you get more information on keyword research:
1. The Moz blog category on Keyword Research is an excellent place to start for information on keyword research.
2. The Google AdWords Keyword Planner Tool is a common starting point for SEO keyword research. In addition to suggesting keywords and providing estimated search volume, this tool also gives the cost of running paid campaigns for these terms. To determine volume for a particular keyword, set the Match Type to [Exact] and look under Local Monthly Searches. What you see are total searches. Considering your ranking and click-through rate, the actual number of visitors you will get for these keywords is often much lower.
3. In the blog NichePursuits.com, Spencer Haws, the software entrepreneur of the Long Tail Pro, gives a lot of practical advice for getting your content (and therefore your site) to rank well in search results. Visiting this blog is essential for any content marketer or any blogger seeking to get visitor-relevant traffic.
4. The Long Tail Pro can help you sort out new domains for projects you are working on. For example, someone wanted to start a customer satisfaction site and found with this tool that the term “Satisfaction Scale” had a decent volume of searches and fit the direction or theme they had for the project. The tool not only generated loads of different terms they could consider but also it also let them know if a domain was available for that term. This saves a lot of time.
If you have any questions about keyword research or how to find quality keywords to use on your website, just ask in the comment box below or contact me on my Wealthy Affiliate Profile. I will be more than happy to help you anyway I can. Meanwhile I urge you to try the Jaaxy keyword tool for free.
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