What Is Keyword Research?
Keyword research is the process of analyzing search terms that bring visitors to your website through organic and paid search. By understanding what terms our target audience searches we can better understand how they search for content, services, or products.
Keyword research helps answer questions like:
- What do people search for?
- How many people are searching for it?
- How do people search for it?
Keyword research is the starting point of most search marketing campaigns, as well as essential for SEO and content creation.
Part 1: Asking Questions
Before you start any keyword research, it is important to ask questions. Understanding who the business is and who the target market is will help with conducting the research later on.
Here is a list of questions taken from the MOZ keyword research article:
- What types of services or products are people searching for?
- Who is searching for these terms?
- When are people searching for these products or services?
- Are there seasonality trends throughout the year?
- How are people searching for it?
- What words do they use?
- What questions do they ask?
- Are more searches performed on mobile devices?
- Why are people seeking this product or service?
- Are individuals looking for a type of product because or a specific reason?
- Where are potential customers located — locally, nationally, or internationally?
Part 2: What are People Searching For?
Keyword research is all about finding the words or phrases that people use to connect with your product or service on the internet. A good place to start keyword research is through the use of seed terms.
Seed terms are basic words or terms that someone might use to find your website, and which you can use to find more related keywords. For example, if your company sells musical instruments, some of the basic “seed” terms could be things like: musical instruments and guitars.
The next step is to input these keywords into a keyword research tool and discover new keywords. I like to use Google Keyword Planner, a tool within Google Ads, for this. When you input “Musical Instruments” and “Guitars” into Google Keyword Planner, I get the following results:
While discovering relevant keywords for your content, you will notice that the search volume of those keywords varies greatly. While you definitely want to target terms that your audience is searching for, in some cases, it may be a good idea to target terms with lower search volume because they’re far less competitive.
Part 3: Understanding Volume and the Long Tail
One basic principle of planning keywords is understanding that the more volume the more competition that keyword will have. Usually, the top 10 results on google are made up of really big company’s, so getting yourself to rank for them will be an uphill battle. However, you don’t want to go after keywords that have too low of a search volume either. A good tactic for those starting out, is to go after highly specific, lower competition terms, or what we like to call long tail keywords.
What are Long Tail Keywords?
More basic keywords usually will have higher search volumes, however, this does not mean that they are the most effective. Usually short form keywords are very ambiguous. For example, take the search term guitars. Does the person want to know what the best guitars are? Does he want to buy a guitar? Does he want to learn how to play the guitar?
Short form keywords typically have very low intent, and by targeting them you might be casting too wide of a net.
Long Tail Keywords are keywords or phrases that are more specific and targeted. They are usually longer than seed or basic keywords and usually demonstrate some sort of intent. In the case of guitars for example, a long tail keyword would be “guitar stores near me.”
When planning out what long tail keywords to use, it is good practice to think about the intent of the search.
- Informational Searches: The searcher needs information, such as the name of a band or the height of the Empire State Building.
- Transactional Searches: The searcher wants to do something, such as buy a plane ticket or listen to a song.
- Local Searches: The searcher wants to find something locally, such as a nearby coffee shop, doctor, or music venue.
- Commercial Investigation: The searcher wants to compare products and find the best one for their specific needs.
- Navigational Search: The searcher wants to go to a particular place on the Internet, such as Facebook or the homepage of the NFL.
Keeping in mind the intent behind a keyword will help you plan out what keywords you will be going for. Make sure to keep a balance between your long tail and short tail in order to boost traffic.