If you have your own website or blog, SEO keyword research could completely change your content strategy. The problem is, most website owners have no idea what SEO keyword research is or how to use it to their advantage.
Recently, SEO keyword research has changed from keyword stuffing to semantic search. Google used to reward websites who had the search phrase directly in their written content. Now, Google uses artificial intelligence to determine the intention of its user searches. It then determines which content is most relevant using semantic search. While SEO may have taken a 180-degree turn, there are a few things that have remained unchanged. Keyword research, for example, has remained consistent for people looking to optimize their web presence for search.
What are Keywords?
Keywords are words and phrases that help people find your website during a web search. These words and phrases describe your website or the products or services you are offering. As a site owner, your job is to incorporate these keywords into your content and metadata to make it easy for users to find you. Without implementing these keywords, they are more likely to land on a competitor’s site that ranks above yours.
Why is SEO Keyword Research Important?
Needless to say, SEO keyword research is the bedrock of SEO strategy. Effective SEO keyword research isn’t only about ranking on search engines; you also need to get the right kind of visitors to your website. Keyword research gives you an insight into your customers and the market as a whole – you can then tailor your content to be as relevant as possible to your specific market and draw the visitors you desire and deserve.
To put it simply, SEO keyword research is basically taking the time to research the keywords and phrases that are most relevant to your audience. By thinking of the search engine process from your audience’s perspective, you tailor the content on your website to be as relevant as possible to what your visitors are searching. This, in turn, provides a better user experience for your visitors resulting in longer time spent on your website which Google rewards with higher rankings.
How to Find Effective Keywords for Your SEO Keyword Research Strategy
Step 1: Start By Listing Out Relevant Topics Related To Your Business.
At this stage, you need a set of generic topics related to your business. You could use these ideas to find keywords related to your business. For example, if you are writing about real estate investment, come up with topics like selling homes quickly, sale-by-owner sales, selling homes with repairs, etc. Put yourself in the shoes of the end user – what are they most likely to look for? Come up with at least 5 to 10 topics.
Step 2: Think of Potential Keywords Related To These Topics
Take each of these topics and think of search terms that users are likely to enter. You do not have to come up with synonyms at this stage – that comes later. For instance, if you’ve chosen “selling homes with repairs” as a potential topic, think of keyword phrases that are likely to be related to that topic. A few phrases that I could think offhand would include:
- Sell home fast
- Companies that buy houses in any condition
- How to sell home fast by owner
- Cash home buyers
This can go on and on until you have a list of all the potential phrases that people are likely to search. You can also add keywords that your website is currently being found for. You can find this using Google Analytics or review keywords on Google Webmaster Tools. You’ll get a list of keywords that people are using to reach your website. Repeat this process for all the generic topics. You could also speak to your sales team to get a general idea about the common questions they are asked. The questions your sales team answers repeatedly are very likely the same questions users are searching in the search engines.
Step 3: Branded, Generic, Short Tailed, Long Tailed…Your List Should Include Everything
Not all keywords are similar. Brand keywords are for people who already know your name – they’re relatively easy to convert. Generic keywords are for people who know about your business market, but not about you specifically.
For example, “we buy houses” – people are aware of this business, but they haven’t chosen a buyer yet and are still educating themselves. You could use variations of this keyword like ‘we buy houses for cash’ or “we buy houses as is”.
Long-tailed keywords are longer and more specific search terms. For example, “sell house in Arizona for cash”. With search queries getting longer and more specific, you may want to include these more often. The more specific the keyword is the easier it is to rank for. However, the drawback of this is that the more specific, the less traffic it likely gets. So developing a balanced SEO keyword strategy of specific and generic keywords is a good approach.
A good SEO keyword strategy should include diverse keyword phrases since it is observed that while long-tailed keywords are good for short-term goals, generic keywords are good for long-term goals.
Step 4: Competitor SEO Keyword Research
You could also manually search for keywords to check what positions your competitors are placed, or run a quick search on SEMrush to look for top keywords for these domains. Competition research helps you understand what keywords your competitors are ranking for. These keywords are likely important for your website as well.
Step 5: Filter your Choice:
Now that you have a wide choice of keywords, it’s time to filter down to the ones that are relevant and worth pursuing. While there are plenty of paid software, nothing beats the Google Adwords Keyword Planner. Look for search volume and identify trends using Google Trends to understand which SEO keyword research needs more focus, or watch for keywords that may seem low-volume, but could trend later. You could continue this until you narrow down your choice to a set of keywords.
Now that you have your keywords, remember to evaluate them every few months to determine whether you need to add more or revise your existing keywords. Having a solid SEO keyword strategy can greatly improve the quality content you are providing to your audience.
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