Finding and Targeting the Right Keywords for Your Business in 2021
Conducting keyword research is one of the most fruitful SEO activities your business can do. Finding your target audience, their individual preferences and niches, and learning how to rank for the terms that users are searching for is vital to the success of your SEO strategy.
What is Keyword Research?
Keyword research or keyword analysis is the process of discovering what terms, phrases, and questions consumers are typing into search engines that can be used to attract that audience to your website.
Keywords are a fundamental part of the way search engines categorize information. They allow you to determine the best way that your company can provide solutions to your audience and subsequently attract your audience to certain pages of your website.
Organic rankings don’t occur accidentally. Real people are typing information into Google and finding pages on your website in the SERP (search engine results page). Any given page on your website can rank for hundreds or thousands of different yet related keywords.
Keyword research affects:
- Website design and content topics
- On-page and technical SEO decisions
- Off-page linking strategies and link building
- Identifying competitors in the market
- When to create or optimize specific web pages or topics
- Product or service development as a result of demand
Uncovering the right keywords is important to inform topics for content marketing, improve search visibility, increase rankings, and improve your overall SEO strategy.
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The Importance of Keyword Attributes and Analysis
Not all keywords were created equal, and it’s your responsibility to evaluate the attributes of each trending word to find its level of opportunity.
Think of keywords like a funnel. At the top of the funnel are the head terms, which are usually single-word keywords and very generalized. Many people are searching for these terms, and they have a low conversion rate. For example:
Next, come the body keywords. They are generally 2-4 words long and a little more specific with about 2,000 monthly searches.
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Finally, long-tail keywords make up the bottom of the sales funnel. While they are not very high-volume searches, they have a higher conversion rate because they answer a specific question your audience has. They might even take the form of a full question.
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You might be thinking that long-tail keywords are the way to go, but each type of keyword has its place in an overall SEO strategy.
Next, it’s vital to consider why the searcher is looking for whatever they’re typing into Google in the first place.
Mukarram Haroon, a content marketer at HTML Pro, takes it a step further when outlining the different types of keywords and how to match them to the buyer journey in his beginner’s guide to keyword research on searcher intent.
When a user is looking to gain some sort of specific knowledge about a topic through a query.
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When searchers know the destination they want to reach, their query is referred to as a navigational Keyword.
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Commercial queries identify that someone is looking to get information on an item or service that they want to buy.
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Transactional queries show that someone intends to make a purchase.
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Searcher intent informs what kind of traffic your business could be capturing. With this knowledge, you can optimize your website to ensure a flawless user experience for those queries.
Search volume is the number of times someone searches for a specific keyword, no matter the type. It’s important to remember, however, that pages can simultaneously rank for multiple keywords. Organic traffic opportunities go beyond ranking for any specific given keyword.
Nicole Burson, SEO Manager at MGMT Digital, breaks down why it’s a great idea to target low-volume keywords as a part of a healthy SEO strategy.
This metric analyses the importance and competitiveness of each keyword. Quick wins are created when you can find hyper-relevant and low-ranking keywords. In short, creating content that fills a need in the marketplace before other people are filling this space with informative articles can position you as an industry leader in a specific niche.
The SERP is Growing
Gone are the days where a query on Google results in a list of web pages with related content. Depending on the search and the competitiveness of a term, the results page could include any number of the following:
- Featured snippets
- Local business page
- Suggested news content
- Paid advertisements
- Celebrity Q&As
If you’re looking to rank for a competitive term, and everyone who shows up on the first page of the SERP has an informative video and infographic to go along with their well-written blog article, you’re probably going to need those things to remain competitive too.
Beginning Keyword Research
When finding a good starting point for your keyword analysis, begin with what your website is already ranking for. By establishing what your website is doing well, you can better understand your audience, market, and possible opportunities.
Google offers a free tool called Google Search Console. This tool will provide you with useful information to gain actionable insights into how people are finding your website on Google.
- What are people typing in to get to specific pages on your website?
- What are the average positions in the SERP for specific pages?
- What is my click-through-rate for specific keywords?
- Is my audience using desktop or mobile?
This information can act as a starting point for optimizing your website. If your average position is 11th for a certain keyword, putting some focus on the nearly-there keywords is a great way to give your website a boost. You can also find places to give certain pages a boost.
Determine and List the Best Keyword Seeds
To begin reaping the benefits of keyword research, creating a list of terms associated with your product or service will allow you to branch out into more unique specialties.
Related search terms will take you down a labyrinth of opportunities when you begin to analyze the competition’s keywords and competitive landscape.
Group Keywords by Opportunity
Lance Beaudry, Co-Founder at Avalanche Creative, discusses how you can use keyword mapping to group your keywords in order of their earning potential.
This strategy can help you to determine the overall value of a particular market if you were to rank for certain keywords and help you weigh up the pros and cons of a potential SEO investment.
Higher Value Keywords
- Long-tail or body
- Informational, commercial, or transactional
- Lower competition
- Medium to high search volume
Lower Value Keywords
- General keywords
- High search volume and highly saturated
- Low search volume
Targeting lower-value keywords creates a lot of work for little monetary return. Higher value keywords are keywords that are going to bring the right niche to the right pages of your website.
SEO Keyword Research Tools
Keyword research is part science and part creative flair. SEO teams don’t always want to admit it, but finding the best keyword research and gaps often come down to industry knowledge and a little creative luck.
The most important thing is that whatever keywords you decide to use, they must be tested against real data and then again monitor the campaign’s success over time. Like any science, hypothesis testing and continual improvements are vital for a successful search campaign.
Keyword analysis, implementation, and ROI takes time.
If you’re new to keyword research and looking to familiarize yourself with the many different options available after taking an initial search through Google Search Console, free tools such as Keywords Everywhere or Keyword.io are great places to begin.
The Ahrefs Keyword Explorer is a powerful tool that offers a number of different functionalities. You can enter seed keywords into their explorer tool, which will return thousands of related ideas and helpful decision-making metrics such as volume, difficulty, and potential traffic.
In addition, Ahrefs offers content analysis tools to track your competition and gaps in your content.
Another popular option, SEMRush, offers a similar set of functionalities. Using the organic research option, you are able to actually see where your competitors are ranking and learn what keywords are driving traffic to their website.
Tools are important for tracking and monitoring your website, the competition, and your customer base online. Purchasing an SEO tool for keyword research won’t do the work for you, but it will provide information with which you can make actionable insights.
SEO Strategies and Keyword Research
Overall, keyword analysis is an important part of a strategic SEO strategy. Targeting a combination of keyword types and adapting to feedback throughout the campaign is an important part of creating content that ranks in the SERPs and overtaking your competitors online.
If you’re considering hiring a consultant to help you accomplish your business objectives with keyword analysis, check out the top SEO agencies in the United States or the top SEO agencies in Canada.
About the author
Emily is a SEO Content Strategist at UpCity and focuses on marketing strategy from digital marketing experts and industry leaders. Prior to UpCity, Emily gained digital agency and SEO experience in Chicago drawing upon a decade of content marketing experiences abroad.