When it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), keywords are an integral part of success. In the past, it has been a common practice to incorporate keywords multiple times within the content of a website to rank on Google. After the update of Google’s algorithm, this approach no longer is the best method for getting results. With Google’s update, the intent behind the user’s search now plays a major factor in the ranking of search results. Thus, making keyword research necessary for success. Let’s walk through what exactly keyword research is and some of the tools available to help you.
What is Keyword Research?
Keywords are the phrases users enter into a search engine when completing an online search. These words or phrases vary depending on your business, target audience, and where the user is in the decision-making process. Because there are so many variables, it can be difficult to choose which keywords to target to get maximum results. This is where keyword research becomes useful.
Keyword research is the process of discovering the terms users will type in to search engines that are related to your business and help you better understand how users are finding you. It also allows you to see what concepts your users care about which can help you better target your site. When completing keyword research, you will be able to see the keywords users are currently using to find your site, what keywords your competitors are using and related terms you may not have thought of before. Once you have completed your keyword research, you will then be able to create targeted content that is relevant to both Google and your audience.
When a user decides to complete an online search, there are several different intent options they may use. Google will try to predict which option the user is utilizing and gear the results towards the one that makes the most sense. These intents include:
- “To Know” – This is usually when a user is looking for an answer to a question and is harder to rank for as Google usually will display the answer in an answer box. For example if a user searches “How many inches are in one foot?”
- “Website Navigational” – This usually occurs when a user is looking to visit a specific website. For example, if a user types “gotechark.com” into the search bar.
- “Visit/In-person” – This query is usually accompanied by “near me” and is when a user is looking to do something within their local area. For example if a user searches “restaurants near me”
- “Transactional” – This occurs when a user is ready to sign up or complete a purchase. For example, if a user searches for “nike running shoes” they are looking for a very specific product instead of broadly searching for “running shoes”.
Depending on where a user is within the problem-solving process, whether they have just become aware of the problem, have become aware of possible solutions, are in the process of comparing solutions or ready to make a purchase, can affect the intent and words used to complete an online search.
The Keyword Research Process
As mentioned above, there are several tools available to help you complete keyword research. These tools include the Moz Keyword Explorer, The Keyword Research Tool by SEMrush, and UberSuggest by Neil Patel. There are several steps that come with completing keyword research. We will break down each step and how to complete them in each tool.
The first step is to start brainstorming topics related to your business and goals to help come up with some initial keywords. During brainstorming, we recommend creating a spreadsheet or using a whiteboard. Designate areas for all stages of the sales funnel and cross-reference with common topics related to your business. A good place to start is to find out from your team what are some of the most frequently asked questions about your business from customers. This will help you find the areas that you might have otherwise missed.
Once these missing areas have been identified, the next step is to start compiling a list of keywords and variants related to these topics. All the tools mentioned above handle this part of the process in similar manners.
When using Moz, you will need to navigate to the Keyword Explorer from the top menu when logged in to your Moz Pro account.
Once you enter a keyword into the search bar, you will be taken to the keyword overview page.
Here you will see detailed metrics related to the specific keyword you have entered. Below you will find a section of keyword suggestions that are variations of the keyword you have searched.
To be redirected to the full list of suggestions, click the “See All Suggestions” link within the section.
On this page, you can select the checkbox next to the keyword variations you would like to include in your keyword list. Click the “Add To” dropdown on the top right corner of the table to start compiling your keyword list.
For the Ubersuggest tool, the process is similar. You will need to navigate to the online tool and start by entering the keyword into the search bar. You will be redirected to the keyword overview that shows detailed metrics of the keyword that was entered.
To see keyword variations you can either choose the Keyword Ideas Tool from the left side menu or scroll down to the keywords ideas section below. This page contains a table that shows multiple tabs with keyword variations that may be useful depending on your goals and approach.
Check the box next to the keywords you would like to include in your list and export.
When using SEMRush, you will need to navigate to the site, expand the keyword analytics section on the left side menu, and click overview.
Enter up to 100 keywords you would like to search for. You will then be redirected to the keyword overview page which will show in-depth metrics for the keywords you have entered. This page will also include a list of keyword variations and related keywords that may be useful to add to your keyword list.
Clicking to see all keywords in either section will redirect you to the Keyword Magic Tool. Here you can filter all the keywords based on the match type and if the keyword is phrased as a question or not. Check the box next to the keywords you would like to add to your list and either add them to the Keyword Manager or export them.
Now that your keyword list has been created, it is then time to evaluate which ones would work best for you. There are many factors that come into play when evaluating whether or not to target a specific keyword which include monthly volume, difficulty score, organic click-through rate, and cost per click. Monthly Volume is how many times the specific keyword is searched per month. The difficulty score tells you how hard it will be to rank for this keyword. This score is out of 100 and the general rule of the thumb is that any keyword with a score above 60 is considered difficult to rank for. Organic Click-through rate (CTR) shows how often a user clicks links related to these keywords that are not ads. When a keyword has a low percent it means it is difficult to rank for this specific keyword because there are a lot of paid ads that show in the results. The final metric that needs to be taken into account is the cost-per-click (CPC) which shows how much someone is willing to pay to have their site ranked for this keyword. CPC mostly refers to pay-per-click ads, but it is also possible to rank for the same keyword organically. Usually, the higher the CPC, the more valuable the keyword. Using the metrics above, you should evaluate the keywords that you have included in your list and decide which ones would bring you the most traffic.
For all the SEO tools mentioned above, these metrics can be found at the top of the Keyword Overview Page.
You can also evaluate the keywords in your list by checking the keywords your site already ranks for using Google Search Console and completing a competitor analysis. Doing so is beneficial because they have already completed the keyword research process and optimized their site content allowing you to expand upon what works for them.
All three tools contain features that can help you see how your competitors are performing.
As you evaluate your keywords you start thinking about the strategy for targeting you would like to use. At first glance, it might seem like the best approach is to target the keywords with the highest volume, but the catch with those methods is that they also generally have a higher difficulty score and keywords with high difficulty scores take longer to rank for. Another approach that can be beneficial is to go for the long-tail keywords with lower monthly volume because it takes less time to rank for and the difficulty score is usually low. The strategy that works best for you will be dependent upon your specific business goals. Once you have chosen the keywords you would like to target, you can start writing keyword-rich content that is optimized for both search engines and your customers.
Whether your business is just starting or has been in business for decades, completing keyword research can help you better understand your target audience and increase your search visibility. If you are not sure how to start, reach out to the SEO experts at TechArk. Our experienced team will learn everything there is to know about your business to help create a strategy that will get you results.