Let’s play a game.
Tell me the first thing that jumps to your mind when I say, “SEO?”
Was your answer “keywords?” Am I right? That’s magic!
Actually no, 9 out of 10 times, the first thing people associate with SEO is keywords. Just think about the number of times have you gotten the advice, “using proper keywords and you will get results.”
There is a reason behind this.
Optimising your content with keywords definitely helps search engines put your website on top of search engine results page (SERPs). However, a lot has changed in how SEO operates and the direct link between keywords and visibility on search engines.
In the earlier days of digital marketing, marketers would pepper their website content with loads and loads of keywords, and boom they would appear amongst the prime retail space on SERPs.
Today, that trick doesn’t deliver the same results. First of all, times have changed and Google has gotten smarter. Google algorithms have gotten so good at identifying the natural language and supporting context that Google, now, actually penalises brands which literally stuff their website with keywords without any relevant context.
You might be wondering whether keywords still matter in SEO? Yes, absolutely, they still do. In fact, keyword research continues to be the most important task in your SEO strategy.
Continue reading to understand why keyword research matters and how to use keywords successfully in your SEO gameplan.
The Way We Search
How do we, as consumers, search for something? If we are looking for red running shoes, we are more likely to type “red running shoe” or “red running shoe male” over a sentence like “I want to find red running shoes for men.” Your customers are searching using keywords and that is exactly what makes keywords still relevant in SEO optimisation.
The right keywords, when used in a natural and supportive context, will help your target audience discover your business. A site with well laid out and relevant content gets the most ranks and gets placed at the top of search results. Keywords are just as important for off-site content, like social profiles. The presence of targeted keywords opens up alternate ways of how your audience discovers you.
Furthermore, better keyword research also boosts your domain authority, which is basically a score that Moz that shows how your website is performing in SERPs. The more valuable and reliable your website, the higher the domain authority score would be. Why does this matter? Well, because Google and other search engines use the DA score in their search algorithms.
Keyword Research —> Right keywords(in useful & relevant content) —> top of search results —> More visitors —> more leads —> more conversions —> more sales!
Using the wrong keywords will confuse visitors and prompt them to bounce. This behaviour will be picked up by SERPs, often resulting in lower rankings and an increase in spam score (yikes!).
What is Keyword Research
Keyword research is the process used by most of the SEO and marketing professionals to find, research, and analyse all the search queries (keyword search volume) that a target customer would enter into the search box.
Keywords tell us a lot about our customers and their needs, and these valuable insights can guide all your inbound marketing activities. Without researching keywords and phrases, you will not know how to optimise content, images, website, or build links, and therefore not be able to attract the ideal traffic. Keyword research is the foundation for your content strategy because you can build a list of keywords you want to rank and identify what your competitors are ranking against.
Keyword research also sets your topic cluster strategy. The future of inbound marketing and specifically content marketing is moving towards topic clusters, where there is a single, pillar page that acts as a generic, overarching resource page with links to multiple other subtopics. Bringing keyword research and topic clustering together will result in a big step-up in your SEO game.
How to do Keyword Research
Today, the search engines are so sophisticated that they can pick up the meaning behind your words and also identify what sort of questions a customer might type in a search bar (wow!). We know that keywords are still important, but how can we identify the right ones? That is exactly where keyword research comes in.
There are several ways to go about keyword research.
Listen to Customers
Navigational - A search query with the intent of finding a specific page. It’s likely they only want to reach that one destination. Example: Type “Youtube” in the search bar instead of typing out the entire URL.
Informationational - This type of query is run when the user is seeking specific information.
Transactional - Here the user wants to get to a website where there will be more interaction, e.g. buying something, downloading something, signing up, or registering etc.
Understanding the intent of your customers will allow you to identify keyword or topic clusters. This can then help you outline what sort of content to create to attract these different searchers.
There are multiple keyword research tools available on the Internet. Some of the popular options are:
Learn from your competitors, both in terms of what they are doing well and what opportunities you can turn into a win for yourself. As part of your keyword research, see where your competitors are ranking. You might uncover keywords or phrases that you might have missed out on. Also, study the competitors’ content to see how you can create better content as well.
Final Thoughts-Keywords are Here to Stay
The benefits of well-researched keywords are multifold. From gaining insight into consumer behaviour to laying the first stone for your content map, keyword research is linked to multiple aspects of your inbound marketing strategy.
As SEO evolves and Google continues changing algorithms, your approach to keyword research will also change, especially in scenarios where you are launching a product or entering a new market.
Always remember that your keyword research is an on-going process just like other pieces of your SEO strategy. Continue building relevancy and gain trust by staying up-to-date on trends.
How you go about keyword research? What are the steps you follow?
Need help with keyword research? Let’s Talk.