The strategic use of keywords in content is extraordinarily important, due to the concept of search engine optimization. Keyword research is the foundation to creating and implementing great on-site and off-site SEO campaigns. It’s very challenging to practice SEO if you don’t know how to choose the right keywords. You must conduct research on keywords to get the most out of your SEO strategy. This blog post walks you through the keyword research process, from start to finish.
Steps to Take When Researching Keywords
There are a few steps to take when researching keywords to use as part of your SEO strategy. Once you have completed this process a few times, it becomes much easier and almost second nature. Here’s how to conduct SEO keyword research:
1. Evaluate Your Industry and Niche
Your industry and niche will determine the type of content your target audience is looking for. Deciding this will help you as you identify the best keywords to use. When you publish pages and blog posts to your website, the content should be focused around your industry and niche. As you implement your SEO strategy and focus on content relevant to your market, you will gain authority in your industry. This authority will be seen by both your target audience and by search engines. Before writing any content, look at your business and think about what type of content you can write that is somehow related to your industry. You will usually only need to complete this process once.
2. Determine Seed Keywords
Once you have determined your industry and niche, you should have a good general idea of what your audience is going to search in Google, to find your products or services. Now, you will want to determine your seed keywords, which are the words that are related to your business. For example, if you own a kid’s toy shop, your seed keywords may be “kids toy store [city],” or simply, “kids toy store.” Other related seed keywords could be “toys for toddlers,” “old fashioned toys” or “popular toys.” Your seed keywords should not change unless you are changing your business’ industry, purpose, or products.
When determining your seed keywords, you should ask yourself, What would I search for when trying to find a business like mine? These keywords should be what people search for to find your business and they should be frequently searched for.
3. Look at Different Keywords
There are a few different ways you can find keyword ideas. You can type your seed keywords into a search engine and allow it to predict other keywords for you. Search engines will suggest keyword phrases to you based on what other people have searched before. There is also a section on Google where it suggests an alternative keyword phrase for you to use. These suggestions are based on other frequently searched phrases that have been conducted by other people.
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Another way of coming up with keyword ideas is to use a keyword research tool. Most of these tools will suggest keywords that contain your seed keywords or related keywords. Keyword research tools will look at what keywords are searched for and give you a report in seconds. This saves you a lot of time as you do not have to manually search each seed keyword for suggestions. There are some tools that are completely free (like Google’s Keyword Planner), and there are some that vary in price. The Keyword Planner by Google is probably the most well used and free tool available. This would be a good tool for you to start with.
4. Look at the Competition and Search Volume of Keywords
The challenge with the search engine suggestion method is you don’t know the keyword’s competition. The competition is the number of websites who are also ranking for that keyword. This also includes how well they are optimized to rank well for the same keyword. You don’t usually want to try to rank for a highly competitive keyword because then you will have to compete with all of the other ranking websites. It’s usually best to find a keyword that has a perfect balance of high search volume (how often that specific keyword phrase is searched) and low competition.
To get around the challenge of not knowing a keyword’s competition, you can use a keyword research tool. These tools not only suggest keywords to use in your SEO strategy, but they also report the search volume and competition of keywords. There are many other metrics that are reported with tools that may be useful. We recommend using a keyword tool when doing research because it makes the entire process much easier. Our preferred keyword tool is SEMRush. This is a very powerful tool, though it’s not a free option. Another good option we have recently experimented with is SEMScoop.
You should also look at what your main competitors are ranking for. The keywords they rank for will change the way you go about choosing keywords. If you would like to overtake their position so you get more visibility, then consider using those same keywords. If you recognize there are many other keywords you can rank for, and that your competitors haven’t touched, then you may want to use those. This depends on how you want to compete for visibility in your industry.
5. Choose Your Keywords
As mentioned above, you should choose a keyword that has a high search volume and has low competition. It should also be related somehow to your business, products or services. You will ultimately have a very large list of keywords. The actual number of keywords will vary from industry to industry and market to market. But, it wouldn’t be surprising for you to have anywhere from 50-500 keyword phrases that are relevant to your business.
Go through the keywords and select the top keywords you would like to focus on. Remember, select the top keywords based on lowest level of competition and highest search volume. That way you will get the greatest results in the shortest amount of time. Depending on how aggressive you intend to be with your SEO, you will probably want to select about 3-10 top keywords to target.
What to Do After Selecting Your Keywords
This blog post focuses on how to select keywords, but it makes sense to talk talk about the next step. Once you have found the perfect keywords, you can begin using them in your SEO strategy. You will want to include these keywords in your on-site and off-site SEO. In short, on-site SEO has to do with creating content on your website. The content you create should include your keywords. This is very important for boosting your website rankings. Try to keep your keyword density below 3%, which is under three times per every 100 words. This will help you avoid being penalized for over-optimization.
If you’re interested in boosting your on-site SEO, you may want to practice SEO semantics. This means you will also use the other keywords that were recommended to you by your keyword research tool. Using SEO semantics will help ensure you also show up for keyword phrase variations. For example, not everyone will search for “kids toy stores near me”, some may search for “toy stores for children in [city].” There is much more to SEO semantics, and this is just a summary. If you would like to learn more about it, we suggest reading our blog post, How to Use SEO Semantics in Your Content Strategy.
In addition to on-site SEO, you should also use your targeted keywords as part of your off-site SEO. This has to do with getting people to create links from their websites, and making those links point to your website. These links are called “backlinks” because they “link back” to your website. The backlinks created for you should also be centered around your keywords, if possible. You can read more about backlinks and how to get them in our blog post titled Where to Get Off-Site SEO Backlinks From?
Final Thoughts About Keyword Research
Doing keyword research will make a huge difference with your SEO strategy. Keywords are necessary for increasing your organic website traffic. Practicing multiple SEO tactics at the same time will help you get the greatest results in the quickest amount of time.
If you have any questions about keyword research or other SEO tactics, feel free to contact us by filling out the form below. We can set up a time to speak with you and address any questions you may have.