When you start out with a SEO campaign for the first time, you might hear of the term “Keyword Research”, and you might wonder why this is so important to the success of your campaign.
Ultimately, you want your website to pull in traffic, by ranking high on the different search engines on the internet. But to do this, you need to gain an edge over your competition. This is where keyword research comes into play.
Where to Start
First off, you want to identify who your target audience is. What are they interested in? What words would they use to talk about the things they do, tools they use, and so on? Who else might they be purchasing these things from?
By answering these questions, you’ll have something called a “seed list” of potential keywords to test out in keyword research tools for ranking difficulty. What does “ranking difficulty” mean? It means that there are certain words that are more competitive than others because other companies are also using the words you’ve come up with. The more unique and specific the keyword string (also called “long tail keywords”), the less difficulty you’ll have in ranking for that keyword search.
While your keywords might be unique, it’s also a good idea to go for keyword relevance. You can have unique keywords on a page by the ton but if they aren’t relevant to what your potential customers want (or readers, if you’re optimizing for a blog), then your potential customers or readers are not going to see your website.
Test out the Tools
When you’re running the search for each keyword, or a bunch of keywords on your seed list, test out your keywords on a number of keyword search tools. It’s also a good idea to use a competitive keyword tool to see how your competitors rank. Knowing your competition like this enables you to narrow down your own list and decrease the difficulty of getting ranked. This, essentially, is part of keyword discovery: discovering which keywords are going to help you get the ranking you want for your e-commerce website or blog.
One of the easiest—and free—tools to use is taking advantage of Google’s drop-down auto-suggest “bar” to see which phrases or words are being searched for the most. This kind of creative use of keyword suggestion can help you with narrowing down potential longtail keywords.
Alternatively, you can also go to Yahoo or Bing or other search engines to get potential keyword suggestions just to see what keywords get used at those places, as they also have auto-suggest boxes.
Another tool that might come in handy with your keyword research is a free tool/website called Ubersuggest. Ubersuggest is a Google keyword scraper, which means that it will run a chosen keyword phrase along the entire alphabet, plus the numbers 0-9, giving you as many permutations as possible. It takes the tedium out of your keyword research, making your job much easier.
Now that you’ve got some preliminary research done with your seed list, there are three specific things that you need to know about competition and ranking difficulty when it comes to your keyword research.
The first is how authoritative and trustworthy other competing sites are. In other words, how many links are on each competing site, and how relevant are those links?
The second thing to figure out is how well-aligned each site is with the keyword itself. How well does a competing site you’re looking at answer the questions your potential customers would ask?
The third aspect to look at is how trustworthy and authoritative each individual page on a competing site is. Are there a lot of backlinks that point to that website? How high is their keyword relevance?
When most beginners start out with a SEO campaign, they often focus their thinking on driving traffic to a website, which is fine if you’re looking only to get eyes on a blog or newsletter, and you’re not worried so much about converting those visitors into actual customers.
However, if you are in the e-commerce industry, conversion is what you’re after, so in that light, aim your keyword research in that direction, especially those specific, unique long tail keywords that are your most likely opportunities to rank high in the SERP, or search engine result pages for your service or product.
When you’re going about your keyword research, you might want to use tools that not only take into account the competitiveness of a keyword or keyword phrase, SERP of your competition and so on, but also look at misspellings of words. Sometimes websites will come up when someone’s misspelled a word, and Google will flash them a message saying “showing results for X misspelled word. Did you mean X?” Targeting such words can bring additional traffic to your website, since these words/phrases have a lot less competition than their actual counterparts.
Also, to get more ideas for keywords, look at the bottom of each search page and take a look at the related searches for a set of chosen keywords. And then look at the related search results for each of those individual result pages and then run all your potential keywords into the keyword tool of your choice.
If you’re using the free Google Keyword Planner tool, however, it’s generally a good idea to only put in 3-5 keywords at first, just to make sure you’re able to generate more keyword suggestions. The more keywords you put in, the fewer keyword suggestions you’ll have from that tool.
So, Why is Keyword Research Important?
Like I said earlier, doing proper keyword research is an essential part of every SEO campaign, particularly if you are into e-commerce or have some other paid service to offer, even if it’s simply selling How-to eBooks. But even if you’re not selling a paid product or service and are simply writing a blog for all to see, you will want to do some proper research on your keywords in order to have an effective SEO campaign that can send traffic to your website.
Without proper keyword research, you might still be able to generate some search engine traffic. The quality of that traffic, however, is going to be very different from the traffic you are going to get after spending some time on analyzing your keywords and optimizing them. Moreover, the chances of those website visitors converting into potential customers are going to increase greatly if you optimize your website for some well researched profit pulling traffic generating long tail keywords.
Some Tools and Resources to Help You Get Started
Backlinko.com’s Keyword Research Guide – A complete guide in both web page and PDF format that will teach you all you need to know to get started with your first keyword research campaign.
SEMRush SEO Tools – One of the best paid set of search engine optimization tools that will make SEO a piece of cake for you. The keyword research tool on the website not only analyzes your keywords, but it also analyzes your website and tells you if you’ll be able to rank for a particular keyword by checking your website’s authority and giving you a keyword difficulty rating in percentage form.
SEOCockpit Keyword Research Tool – Another excellent keyword research tool that I personally use for almost all my SEO campaigns. The tool runs in the cloud and is thus extremely fast and very accurate in analyzing keywords.
Google Keyword Planner – The best free keyword research tool out there, by none other than Google itself!