A Beginners Guide To Keyword Research

Search engine optimization, particularly keyword research, is an ever growing form of marketing that helps businesses get discovered online easier and more frequently. SEO strategies can help businesses flourish by providing them with more exposure on the web and more targeted traffic.

Although Google’s algorithms and how they evaluate and rank different sites on the Search Engines Results Page (SERPs) are changing and updating constantly, the process of using specifically targeted phrases within the content of the website is still one of the key ranking factors that connect the searcher with the information they require.

What Are Keywords?

Keywords are words or phrases used in search engines like Google to find answers on the web. These keywords or phrases trigger an algorithm that analyzes the search intent and ranks the relevant content available online.  The search engine will provide the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) that ranks web pages to provide the searcher with the best answers based on their search. 

There are a lot of factors that come to play in the ranking of different web pages on the SERPs. A critical factor that withstood the constant updating of the algorithms and has somewhat remained the same is optimizing websites using keywords.

Since Keywords are based on what people search for on the web, implementing them in your web page’s content can be very beneficial and may increase your website’s traffic. However, there’s a process involved in figuring out what keywords to use, when to use them, how to use them and where to use them. This article will guide you through the process of keyword research, its importance, and everything you need to know about keywords and how to implement them correctly on your website.

What Is Keyword Research?

Keyword Research is a process that involves targeting specific phrases that people use to search for things on the web and analyzing those phrases to better understand the inner workings of how the search engine evaluates and ranks pages.  Using that information to your advantage by implementing those keywords on your website will enhance your online performance and web quality and ultimately bring more targeted traffic to your webpage.

Keywords have different targets, popularity, and ranking difficulty. It’s important to know what to use and when to use them. By figuring out what keywords your targeted audience uses when searching and what comes up in the results, you can create a strategy that will increase your site’s organic traffic. Unfortunately, this is not as simple as finding keywords and just throwing them in the content of your page. There are a few things you need to know to properly implement keywords in your site for them to actually make an impact.

How To Research Keywords

There are different approaches to conducting Keyword Research, and then there are elements that need to go along with implementing those Keywords to yield the best results. Researching Keywords that would fit your website can be as simple as typing a few search queries in the search bar and seeing what comes up.

Usually, when starting a site or even when you already own an existing one, before you research keywords, you would want to know exactly what your site provides and what audience you mean to target. Knowing the audience you intend to bring to you and what you plan to deliver to them narrows down the list of keywords you’ll want to use by a lot.

Once you know your audience and your site with its products, you can think of a few relevant topics you could talk about that revolve around what you have to offer. Keywords and the content you mean to provide are linked together and don’t work without one another, so figuring out the right content to provide is crucial to the webpage.

Choosing The Perfect Content To Compliment Your keywords

The evolution of the algorithms has gone beyond just keywords. These algorithms are now able to figure out whether the content you provide is actually helping people. This means the content you provide, alongside keywords, plays a vital role in how authoritative your website will be on the search engine. The content should always be centered around what people want to discover, so providing content that answers or matches search queries will increase your overall visibility. This is where intent comes in.

Keywords can have different meanings, so trying to figure out what Google sees as the intent of a particular keyword is important in choosing the correct keywords that go well with the content you provide. To figure out the intent of different keywords, you can simply type them in google and see what comes up. Here you can compare your competitors’ content as well. Understanding intent will allow you to find more keywords for your web page’s content.

Keywords may be ineffective if their intent doesn’t match that of the content. Relevance of content and search intent are key factors in ranking well on the SERPs, and it’s important that your content addresses the problem the searcher intends to solve. Your content should be the best resource for the targeted query if you want it to rank higher.

Another factor to have in mind when writing content for your webpage is the buyers’ personas and the phases of the buyers’ journey. Usually, the keyword intent is a factor that links directly to the journey because different phases of the buyer’s journey will be linked to keywords with different intent. It’s a good idea to target all those phases of the buyers’ journey with adequate keywords that go along with it. This will help towards the insightfulness of your content and serve the buyer with the necessary information about his problem, including the solution.

There are three phases to the buyers’ journey which will be listed below:

  • First phase: This phase is called the informational phase or the awareness phase. In this phase, the potential client gathers information on his problem and educates himself on how to solve it. This involves the usage of keywords that usually have the phrase “when” or “where” in them. Notice how the intent is entirely informational; the client isn’t looking for anything to buy, they’re just trying to find information.
  • Second phase: This is called the investigative or consideration phase. In this phase of the clients’ journey, the intent has changed to finding the best product out there. The client is now aware of his problem and the solutions out there, so it’s just a matter of who will solve their problem the best. The keywords used in this phase might contain the phrase “best” in them.
  • Third phase: The last phase of the buyer’s journey is called the transactional or the decision phase. The intent is now purely transactional, and the customer intends to buy the best product they found. This phase will include comparisons to the competition as well as keywords that have phrases like “buy,” “visit,” or “call” in them.

Choosing the right and relevant content for each phase of this journey, with the customers’ intent in mind and creating more pages on your site for the content by differentiating keywords with informational intent from those with purchase intent, is essential to cater to your clients’ needs. Once your clients’ needs are met, ranking higher on the SERPs will become a matter of time.

Finding The Right Keywords

Knowing what content you want to provide now allows you to research different keywords and see what they bring up on the web. You can begin by looking up words or sentences that define what you do. Are you a plumber? Maybe look up plumbing in your area. Are you a cyber defense company? Think of problems related to cyber defense, what people deal with, and try to find keywords that bring up websites similar to yours. Then check if the intent of the content shown based on the searched keyword matches the content you intend to create.

You can also find more keywords by using Google’s suggestions for searches, or you can also use tools like Ahrefs to figure out what other keywords your competitors use. This tool allows you to check other important aspects of keywords, such as the search volume, keyword traffic, or how difficult the keyword is to rank for.

If you have a website, you can check if keywords are already in the content you provide. If they are, you should check your rank for them using Google Analytics. For example, you can check the Organic Search Bucket in the analytics to identify different Keywords people use to arrive at your site, providing you with good information on the next steps. You can also look outside the web and talk to colleagues that face customers personally and ask about questions customers have, giving you a good idea of what people might search for.

Once you’ve come up with a few keywords to use, you want to rank them based on their search volumes. You can do this using Google Trends. Search Volumes are the number of times a keyword has been searched during a month. A mix between keywords with a lot of search volume and little search volume is ideal, but before removing any keywords from your bucket you should check if they are trending keywords. Sometimes low-volume keywords have trending potential or are a part of a phase of the buyers’ journey, meaning its low volume is mainly because the buyer has figured out what he’s looking for and is being specific.

Another important aspect is the authority of your webpage. Authority is based on how helpful and informative the content is, how much the content is promoted on social signals and how many backlinks it has. 

Search volume usually goes with website authority; the more authority a website has, the more high search volume keywords it will be using. However, if your page has little authority, you can always use keywords with little competition to rank easier and gain more power. Sometimes, using keywords that aren’t directly related to the content but have something to do with it anyway might help in the ranking as well.

An excellent way to figure out what keyword to use is to google the keyword you intend to use and analyze the first results. There are different snippets that Google shows in the SERPs as the first results, and it is possible to get featured on those snippets. For example, if you want to be featured in the horizontal row of images that google shows, using a lot of images in your content will help you win this placement. Or maybe you want to be featured in the paragraph snippets, then you need to provide concise answers with the searchers’ intent in mind to win this placement.

Another factor to check is the Cost Per Click value of the keyword. This is how many people that come across the keyword actually click on it. Even though these kinds of keywords with high CPC are tougher to rank for, they provide highly relevant traffic.

Different Keywords And How To Use Them

When it comes to keywords, there are two different types to use. There are head terms and long-tail keywords. Head term keywords are shorter, up to three words, while longtail ones are usually longer phrases that link to something more directly.

The major difference between them is the search volume. Head terms have more search volume while long-tail ones don’t. However, long-tail keywords bring more desirable traffic to your site because searchers that use long-tail keywords are looking for something more specific that you can provide. Meanwhile, head terms have more generic qualities and might not link to what you provide at all. They are also more competitive because they are searched more than long-tail keywords.

Through analyzing head terms, you will better understand what searchers are trying to find answers to, and then this might lead to you finding more long-tail keywords with topics that answer that question. Usually, you want to find the main term, also called the focus keyword, that best describes your website and what you offer, and then you can find more keywords that revolve around it.

Mixing head terms and long-tail KWs will balance your strategy and provide more long-term results. It’s important to implement keywords in certain places in the content of your page. One of those places is the page title and URL. Ensure that the title is descriptive enough and has the main keyword in it.

Specific keywords may also fit certain content better than others; for example, a keyword might work better on a blog, or maybe a keyword containing the “how-to” phrase goes better with a guide on something. Sometimes different content goes well with particular phases of the buyers’ journey so differentiating between types of content will help find keywords to fit.

There are also a few key terms to keep in mind that help you figure out what keywords to use and how to use them. They will be listed below:

  • Keyword density – this is the number of times you use a keyword or some keywords in your content.
  • Keyword competition – this is the amount of content others are producing to target a particular keyword.
  • Keyword difficulty – this has to do with how difficult it is to rank with a specific keyword.

Analyzing Your Competitors

Knowing what your competitors are ranking for is helpful information that will help you pick what keywords to use and build a strategy to rank higher. Take a keyword you intend to use and search it on google. Studying the first three results will let you in on a lot of information on what the right track might be. You may also check how many links you’re getting with each keyword to sort of figure out how much competition you are really facing.

An important factor in figuring out how much competition there is and how much possible competition there might be is looking at statistics like the link velocity. The link velocity is the number of links added to the results for a particular keyword on a monthly basis. Understanding the link velocity will give you a good idea of how fast you need to grow to keep up.

If you intend on using or are already using a keyword that your competitor is ranking for, trying to improve those rankings is necessary; on the other hand, you can use Keywords your competitor does not use and create your own market and ranking on those Keywords. You can figure out what keywords your competitors are ranking for using Ahrefs.

You can also use programs like SEMrush to check competitors. SEMrush has a Keyword Gap Analysis tool that identifies keywords that your competitors are performing better on. SEMrush will also show you the difference in keywords between you and your competitor with all the ranking information.

In Conclusion

In this sense, there are no ultimate Keywords to use. Instead, it’s all a combination of relevant, timely content, page authority, search volume, and some other technicalities, like the use of keywords, that let Google evaluate your site and rank it accordingly.

Some Keywords might provide insights on current marketing trends, so centering content around those relevant topics provides better traffic for the site and ultimately, more customers interested in what you have to offer.

You should be careful about the number of keywords you use on your content. More keywords don’t necessarily mean you rank higher. If you stuff your content with keywords, your rank will be affected negatively.

Make sure that once you get your keyword bucket, you use adequate keywords on the Page title, URL, the first paragraph, and the subheadings. Also, try to keep coming back to the search volumes of different keywords so you can update and keep up with trends and what people want to discover.

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