The first step in the process of ranking your content and one of the most important parts of your digital marketing & Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy is keyword research. Before you create content for your website or blogs, you have to find out what search terms your audience uses to look for similar content on the internet. Their search terms are your keywords. Based on these “search terms” or keywords as we know them, you can start writing useful and high-quality content. Here, we discuss the many steps involved in keyword research and how you can use keyword research to make top-quality content.
What is keyword research?
Keyword research is an important part of your digital marketing & SEO (search engine optimization) strategies. Keyword research involves searching and arranging an extensive list of keywords they would like a website to rank for.
To make such a list, a keyword researcher needs to look deeper into their target audience and search engines. What terms do people type into Google when looking for their similar products, service, business or organizations? And what do they expect to find? With a comprehensive keyword list, website owners can create high-quality content that will attract more, high-qualified traffic to their website or blog. Always be sure to repeat keyword research regularly; repeating it regularly is essential to stay up-to-date with the latest trends!
Why is keyword research important?
A comprehensive keyword research is very essential for your digital marketing strategy because it will make clear what terms your audience uses to search for specific products, services, businesses or other topics. Many times, business owners use one set of words when describing their products, while their target audience use a completely different set of words. As a result, potential customers couldn’t find their websites, because of a mismatch in word use. This happens very frequently due to improper keyword research or not knowing how to do keyword research.
For instance, you are a business providing services or products which have uncommon names. This can be a smart marketing decision: People could remember your product more easily due to its unique name. For example if you rent out vacation cottages instead of vacation homes, you might stand out. But you must be careful; Few people search for “vacation cottages”. If you optimize your content for this keyword, you’ll probably rank well on this specific keyword. However, you won’t be able to generate a lot of traffic with this keyword as it is uncommon and you’ll miss a large part of your potential audience because they use other words.
As a business, you need to understand that it doesn’t make any sense to optimize for words that people don’t use. Perform a thorough keyword research and make sure that you use the same words as your target audience. This makes the whole effort of optimizing your website or blog far more worthwhile. In addition, by looking at search intent, you can find out what exactly your audience is looking for. Those queries should get an answer in the form of quality content.
Essential concepts of keyword research
Before learning more about doing keyword research, you need to know some essential concepts about it. Here we’ll shortly explain them:
A keyword is a particular word or phrase describing the content of a website, page or a blog. Keywords act as shortcuts to sum up the content of a page or site. Keywords are part of a web page’s metadata that helps search engines match a page to an appropriate search query.
A focus keyword is the word you want a certain page on your site or blog to be found for in Google. You determine your set of focus keywords by doing a proper keyword research.
Long-tail Keywords are more specific terms and are less commonly searched for than the so-called, “head keywords”. They focus on a specific niche. The longer and more specific the keywords are, the easier it will be to rank for them since there will be less competition. Even though there are less people searching for these keywords, they might be more motivated to purchase or subscribe to your product, service or what you want them to do.
Long tail graphic
Your keyword strategy is about the decisions you make based on your keyword research. For instance, what content are you going to create first? Will you focus on the head or tail? How and where will you publish it? Will you create a piece of writing, a post or a product page, a video tutorial or an infographic?
Digging into search intent is key here: you have to discover what a searcher actually wants or needs. You’re not just looking at keywords, but the underlying goals of what a searcher wants to know, do or buy. Your content should provide a solution to the searcher’s “problem”. This is also known as content design.
Search volume is usually measured in average monthly searches. This is the total number of searches each month for each particular search phrase (keyword). Ideally you’re looking for the keywords with the highest search volume. Ranking highly for search terms with higher search volumes means more potential traffic and conversion potential for you and your store.
Unfortunately, there is not a magic number that represents the perfect search volume for everyone. What constitutes the “right” search volume is going to be different for every site.
Search volume isn’t the only thing you need to consider. Competition is equally, if not more important. There’s no point in trying to rank for keywords you have no chance of ranking for. Competition refers to the difficulty of ranking for each particular keyword. In an ideal situation, your chosen keywords would have high search volume and low competition, however, these gold nuggets are difficult to find and will require some hard work, patience and maybe a little luck to find.
Keep in mind that the competition in Google’s Keyword Planner Tool refers to paid advertising competitiveness of keywords rather than organic search competition, however, this is many times representative of the organic search competition as well.
How is keyword research done?
According to SEO specialists, there are 8 crucial steps while carrying out keyword research. Here, we’ll guide you through this process step-by-step and give you practical tips to start your own keyword research:
- Determine your goal
Before starting anything, think about your target. Think about questions such as: What is the main goal of your business? What makes your goals unique and special? Who exactly are you trying to reach out to? What promises do you make on your website? Are you able to deliver what you promise? Think about these questions. This is one of the most crucial step for you if you want to conceptualize an effective digital marketing strategy for your business. Literally write down your mission on a piece of paper or type it on a Word Document. Once you’re able to answer these questions in detail, you’ll have taken the first and most important step in your keyword strategy.
The market you’re in determines whether your mission will prove genius enough to rank high. Some markets are highly competitive, with large companies dominating the search results. These companies have huge budgets for marketing in general and SEO in particular. Competing in these markets is tough, so ranking in these markets is also going to be tough. For example, if you search for an ecommerce store online, chances are very high that you’ll receive results for Amazon.
Perhaps you are a Digital Marketing Agency based in Canada. You offer comprehensive digital marketing services in Canada for small and medium sized businesses at affordable prices. Offering affordable prices for these small and medium sized businesses could be your unique point. So, look for the thing that makes your product stand out from the competition. This should be your mission, your niche – and this is what you have to offer your audience and how it is different as well as unique from what others offer.
If your market is a competitive one, it is best for you to start out small. Once you ‘own’ a small part of your niche and become a bigger name in the business of Digital Marketing Agency in Canada, you could try to level up and sell your Digital Marketing Services to a larger (more general) audience. Your mission will then become more general as well.
- Make a list of keywords
The second step is creating a list of your keywords, preferably in a spreadsheet. To do these you can use Google Sheets or Excel. With your mission in mind and target audience identified, try to get into the heads of your desired audience. What will they be searching for? What kind of search keywords could they be using while looking for services or products in your niche? Which of their “problems” and “difficulties” does your product or service solve? Note down as many answers as possible.
If your target is clear, you will have a pretty clear image of your niche and you will be able to easily identify your unique selling points. These are the keywords you want to be found for.
- Research your keywords
After you’ve created a preliminary list of keywords, it’s time to go into more detail into your keywords. You need to perform a comprehensive analysis on the keywords you have selected. Many people get confused in this step as they don’t know “how” to perform a more detailed analysis. Luckily, there are some tools that make your keyword research a bit easier.
The first and most readily accessible tool as well as the world’s largest and most popular search engine, Google itself. Search the keywords you already came up with on Google search engine and check the searches Google suggests while you are typing. Those are the questions people actually asked Google while looking for products or services in your niche. You can also check out the “related searches” on Google’s results page.
Most people don’t know this, however, youtube is the second largest search engine right after Google. When people are searching for products and services, they may want a visual representation of what that product or service is, or have someone explain it to them in words, as such they search for those products and services on youtube.
Similar to what you would do on Google, search the keywords you already came up with on YouTube and check the searches YouTube suggests while you are typing. Also look for videos suggested when you search for your keywords, check the keywords used in the video.
- Google Keyword Planner
For a more detailed analysis on the keywords, such as search volumes, trends, CPC, backlinks and more in-depth research, you can use Google Keyword Planner. Google Keyword Planner is a free keyword research tool provided by Google offering in-depth and comprehensive research on specific keywords.
With the Keyword Planner, you can easily get search volume, trends, CPC and backlinks. Google Keyword Planner also provides related keywords used to your target audience when searching for their niche. Above all, the Keyword Planner is completely free and anyone with a Google Account can use it, making it easier for small and medium businesses to perform a proper keyword research.
Other Keyword Research tools include Ubersuggest, SEMrush and Ahrefs keyword tools
These tools will provide you with all kinds of variations of your keyphrases, synonyms and related keyphrases. However, one con of these tools is that Ahrefs and SEMrush are paid tools whereas Ubersuggest is a “freemium” tool. As such it may be harder for you to get access to these tools and for Uber Suggests case, you cannot get more in-depth data unless you pay for it.
- Don’t forget the long-tail
When people begin keyword research, they tend to focus on head terms. Unfortunately, those head keywords are very competitive and are mostly ranked by large businesses. So they are very difficult to rank for. Long-tail keywords, on the other hand, get less search traffic, but there’s less competition for them too. Therefore it’s easier for you to rank those keywords. Moreover, long-tail keywords have a higher conversion value, as they focus more on a specific product or service.
A long-tail keyword often is longer and more focused than a head term. If your head term is “digital marketing”, a long-tail keyword could be “digital marketing agency in Canada” or “digital marketing services in Canada”. Using the tools mentioned previously will also help you find more long-tail variants of your keywords.
Don’t forget to add the long-tail keywords to your list. Put the head terms in the first column and add (multiple) columns for long-tail keywords. This will also help you create a proper site structure later on. The more long-tail your search term is, the further down into your site structure its landing page belongs.
- Analyze the competition
Whether you focus more on long-tail keywords than head terms largely depends on your competition. If the competition in your niche is high, you’ll have a hard time ranking on competitive head terms. If you have little competition, you’ll be able to rank for more of your head terms. So you’ll need to do some benchmarking for your SEO strategy.
Look for the keywords that came out of your keyword research on Google Search. Start with your most ‘head’ term. The search engine result page (SERP) that comes up shows websites you’ll be competing against once you optimize your content for that keyword. Now make a more in-depth analysis of these websites: Are these websites professional? Business websites? Are you ‘equal’ to these companies? Does your website fit among these sites? Is your company of similar size and does it have as much influence in your niche?
When you are trying to compete in a niche with stronger brand names, it becomes very difficult for you to rank for keywords. But it’ll be massively helpful for you to take a look at their content. Is the content well written and well optimized? What keywords are they using? How high or low are their Click-through-rate (CTR)? If your competitor has poor, low-quality content, you might have a chance to outrank them! Also, take a look at ads in Google. Are there any? If you have a Google Ads account you can check the pay-per-click. Search terms that have a high pay-per-click are usually also harder to rank for in the organic results.
Make sure to make notes in your spreadsheet about your findings for the keywords you’ve investigated!
- Take a closer look at search intent
In this day and age, SEO strategies should mostly revolve around answering the questions people have or providing the best solution for people’s problems. Whenever a query is searched on a search engine, the people who have searched for the query are looking for something. Every type of question needs a specific answer.
Try to find out what intent your audience has when they look for a certain keyword on Google Search. Do they have an informational intent (try to find information on a specific topic), navigational intent (want to access a specific website), commercial intent (want to research something before buying) or transactional intent (looking to buy something right now)?
You can learn more about the search intent of certain queries by looking closely at the type of pages that already rank for that query. Do you mostly see product pages? Or a lot of informational blog posts? Do you see videos? Or is it a mix? These are all hints to what Google assumes the search intent of a certain query is. This post explains how to use the search results to create great content that matches the right intent.
Find out which kinds of intent apply to your keyphrases and, again, add your findings to your spreadsheet!
- Determine a keyword strategy
Based on the data, you can determine a digital marketing & SEO strategy for your keyword optimization. If you’ve followed the previous steps, you should have a spreadsheet with a substantial amount of keyphrases, and information about the competition and the search intent of your audience for those keyphrases.
Now think about the questions: How is your website compared to the websites in the SERPs? Are you of equal size and marketing budget with the websites on SERPs? Then go ahead and focus on head terms. However, if you are not, then try to focus more on long-tail keywords first.
Focusing on a whole bunch of long-tail keywords combined could attract a lot of traffic. Once you’ve managed to rank for long-tail keywords, ranking for head terms will become easier as the audience has grown more familiar with your website and its ranking has increased.
When you’ve decided where to begin, think about the type of content your target audience wants: What was the search intent for these keywords? What is my target audience looking for? What content can I create that isn’t there yet? How can I stand out in terms of quality or providing solutions? These questions will help you decide on the type of content you’re going to create.
- Start constructing landing pages
Although this step seems out of the scope of keyword research itself. Nevertheless, creating landing pages is essential if you want to get traffic to your website. So, you’ll need to build landing pages for your search terms, but you don’t have to create all these pages immediately – it can be a long-term effort. Your keyword strategy will help you prioritize. Build a good landing page and use the Yoast Duplicate Post plugin to copy these to quickly make new ones.
For your most important keyphrases you’ll create cornerstone content articles; articles that provide the best possible content about that keyword – authoritative and all-encompassing. All your supporting, more long-tail articles will link to this cornerstone content.
Tips for keyword research
Although in the above paragraphs we have explained it as simply as we can, we know the work that has to be put in keyword research and that it is easier said than done. When put to practice, you are bound to be faced with issues and challenges especially if you are a beginner. Here we provide some tips to make doing keyword research easier for you!
Prioritize your keyword list
The question of “How many keywords should you have?” is a difficult thing to answer. No one can tell you the exact number of keywords you should have, but what can be said is simple – you need a lot of them – as many as you can think of. However, more than 1000 keywords are probably too many! Even if you’re a reasonably small business, you’ll probably end up with a couple of hundred keywords.
But there’s no need to create pages for all of these straight away. You can add content bit by bit. Think about what keywords you want to rank for now – perhaps the more long-tail ones? – and which ones aren’t as important right away. Understand your priorities and plan the creation of your content.
A focus keyphrase and its synonyms only need one page
In the past, each of the keywords you wanted to be found for, got its own landing page. Today, however, search engines are so smart that they mostly use search intent to give searchers the best answer to their questions. The page that answers those questions best will rank on top. Search engines also understand subtle differences between keywords so you don’t have to create landing pages for all subtle variations of a keyword, like synonyms.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use synonyms! In fact, synonyms can really improve the readability of your copy, so make sure to use them. Our Yoast SEO Premium plugin can help you with this; it allows you to optimize your content for synonyms and related keyphrases. You can fill in synonyms of your keyphrase under the SEO analysis tab in your Yoast SEO sidebar. If you want to fill in more than one, you can separate them by commas. When it comes to adding related keyphrases to your text, we have an awesome feature you will want to know more about. So let’s discuss that next!
Add related keyphrases to help Google understand your text
Related keyphrases are words and concepts that deepen and broaden the understanding of your focus keyphrase. They even help Google better understand the topic you’re talking about. By using related keyphrases in your text you can paint a complete picture of your focus keyphrase in the article you’re writing.
So, how to find the related keyphrases that will help you rank with your focus keyphrase? You might be able to think of a few related keyphrases, but we think proper keyword data is the safest bet. That’s why you are recommended to use keyword research tools to properly research keywords. Using keyword research tools such as Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, SEMrush, you can not only find the data and search volume for specific keywords, but also we get suggested related keyphrases and trends for every keyphrase.
Check out results for singular and plural keywords
Should you aim for the singular or the plural keyword? Well, this depends on the query. As Google is learning more about the search intent of your query, it is able to better guess what you’re looking for. For instance, if you search for books, you get a different result than if you search for books. Apparently Google thinks that in the first case you’re looking for a definition, in the second case it believes you’re intending to buy a book. So make sure you know what you offer on your page and that it fits with the query and results Google gives on that query.
Use a keyphrase only once
One of the most common mistakes when optimizing your site for search engine optimization is keyword cannibalization. If you use a word more than once in any given article, Google might rank that page or post lower because it’s unable to tell which content should be higher ranked.
There are times when you publish your content and then realize that the same or very similar keywords, keyphrases, phrases have been used on various posts. Well this can be an issue for SEO as it might lead to cannibalization of these links which ultimately impacts how well they rank in search engine results pages (SERPS).
To help solve keyboard issues like this one, audit all current content – You’ll need to go through every page/post manually checking if the text uses any of those “problematic” words. If so, make sure there is no duplicate copy in other places on your site before taking action.
Try, evaluate and try again
Once you’ve done a thorough analysis of your chances to rank on a specific term, the next step is an amazing article and optimize it accordingly. And hit publish, share it on social media and in your newsletter. Make sure you’ll attract some nice backlinks from reputable sources like blogs or industry-specific news sites – not spammy link farms!
If all goes well then after just 2 weeks or so (depending how competitive the market for that keyword phrase is), you should see substantial rankings improvements as Google usually crawls new content quite quickly. So make sure to evaluate articles with keywords periodically by checking them out in SERPs such as Google’s Search. If your content was of high quality, you should see substantial ranking improvement of your website, article, blog, etc. If not and you see instead your content ranking is falling, they go back to the content. Analyze and recheck your content to see what went wrong and reoptimize your content. Repeat this until you see improvement in your rankings.
You’ve been trying to rank your website on the first page of Google for weeks now, but you just can’t seem to make it happen. Now is not the time to give up! Rather than giving up and wasting all that hard work, try writing another article with a more specific keyword focus-such as “What is the best Digital Marketing Agency in Canada?” See how that goes. Evaluate again. Continue this process until you hit that first page of the SERPs!
Quick keyword research
In an ideal world, you would do your keyword research and make a beautiful Excel table or Google Spreadsheet to create landing pages for each one. Your site structure would be flawless and you blog every day making it rank higher in Google – but we live in the real world.
The goal of your research should always be to find keywords that you can rank for. However, this doesn’t have to be a problem if they are inspiration pieces or news related stories as well. It’s important when writing any blog post or article though, no matter what the topic is about, make sure it has a professional tone and engaging language so people will want to read more!
It’s important to make sure that your content fits with the strategy you’ve created for yourself. If it doesn’t, don’t worry! You can still use this content in order to rank on a related keyword or two. Just be aware of tools like Google Keyword Planner, Google Trends and other SEO-related resources so that you know what keywords are trending now and which ones might not get as much attention soon enough – then start ranking those instead!.
Ready? Start writing!
Keyword research is the most essential part of your digital marketing strategy and the start of any sustainable SEO strategy. The result of a comprehensive keyword research will be a long list of qualified keywords for which you’d like to be found. But the most difficult part starts here: writing relevant content.
You should write articles and blog posts on every single keyword you would like to be found for. That’s quite a challenge to overtake, especially if you have other aspects of your business to manage.
Even if you are able to give time to writing content for your website or blog, you might not be able to bring the best out of it, whether it is due to being less experienced or other business matters. This may lead you to writing half-hearted content, low-quality content. This will adverself affect your business as low-quality content without proper keywords does not rank higher up on google search.
And that is a very erroneous mistake to make. So, instead of dealing with it yourself, get a digital marketing agency to write professional & top-notch content for you!
Damex Digital is a digital marketing agency located in Smithers, British Columbia, offering its expertise in Digital Marketing in Canada.
With years of experience in our hands and a rapidly growing list of satisfied clients, we’re the best Digital Marketing Agency in Canada. Get your website or blog optimized with top-notch content and get your digital marketing targets fulfilled with expert services from Damex Digital.