Keyword research is the process of discovering and analysing search terms that people use when searching online. Research into keywords may also reveal which questions are best suited for a website and how popular these query questions are. Such research might also reveal their ranking difficulty. Relevant keywords are typically used as the foundation for search engine optimisation (SEO) campaigns.
Search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo (other search engines are available) are used by people all day, every day, all around the world to find things. Getting your website listed in the results of these search engines for the right keywords is crucial if you want to attract new search traffic, be it from organic or pay-per-click listings. This blog post will discuss why it’s important to choose the right keywords and where to find them.
PPC and SEO
Pay-per-click (PPC) is an aggressive strategy for getting traffic to websites. Here, as the name suggests, you are paying for every click through to your website. PPC ads appear right at the top of the search results pages (SERPs), in the prime position where minimal, if any user scrolling is needed. For an instant source of traffic, PPC can be a good way to drive traffic to a website, but may not be sustainable over the long term, due to cost, poor ROI, regulations (some terms you can’t bid on), and increased competition. SEO is one of the organic ways to attract visitors to the site – from the natural search engine results. Here, there is no cost per click overhead, so whether you get 10 or 10,000 clicks from the organic results, there won’t be any cost associated with that traffic hitting your site.
With PPC, you can add negative keyword lists to weed out useless traffic. For example, if you sold alloy wheels for cars, then you wouldn’t want your PPC ads to show for terms like ‘toy car wheels’, so adding ‘toy’ as a negative search term will help to prune your keyword targeting and avoid paying for unnecessary clicks, from uninterested searchers (people DO get bored and click around!)
SEO and PPC research can be tailored depending on the target audience of each search term and on what the search intent is. Understanding the intent of the searcher is tremendously important so presenting the search with exactly what they’re looking for is key. Testing is the easiest way to get the keywords right for you. Google’s Search Console will give you a heads up on what terms your website is showing up in Search for, so it’s well worth signing up for.
Keyword Research Tools
There are many keyword tools available, but here are some of the most popular (and free) tools you can use. New keywords are being searched for all the time, so it’s a good idea to make keyword research a regular part of your SEO campaign. When you perform keyword research, two of the most important measures are keyword difficulty and monthly search volume. Having sight of both of these metrics will give you a really good indication if you’ll be able to rank a page of your website for relevant search terms. Generally, high search volume keywords will be more difficult – advertisers and existing website owners will have already realised their value, and will be positioned well for them in the search engine results.
Google Trends is another free tool that you can use to analyse keyword trends. It allows you to compare searches for keywords and monitor seasonal trends. Results from Google Trends can be sorted according to a real-time emphasis (last seven days) or a specific range (from 2004 to 36 hours ago) and by country. This is a really useful tool to find the seasonality of demand. To view this point, here is the Trends graph for the term “Christmas meal ideas”:
Answer The public
Answer The Public is a free keyword tool that makes use of Google’s Autocomplete data. It provides ideas for content and is particularly good at identifying topics and subtopics to match Search User Intent. Tools like this are a time-saver, particularly when checking search results (SERPS – ‘search engine results pages’) with specific keywords using certain words. Keep in mind that your goal is a complete dictionary of traffic-generating keywords in which you must gather insights from various tools including Google Ads Keyword Planner- see below.
Google Ads Keyword Planner
Google Ads Keyword Planner is Google’s own free keyword tool. It had an original goal of helping identify pertinent keywords for PPC campaigns but anyone can use it, even if you’re not running Google Ads. To use this tool you’ll just need a Google Ads account (free to sign up). It’s best to filter your searches by the country or the search volumes shown by Google will be significantly higher than the real number of people who see your site using those keywords. Side note – once you’ve got a Google account, you’ll also be able to use Google Analytics to track visitors to your website.
Keyword research process – don’t guess, use a keyword tool!
The first foundational pillar of web optimisation is doing keyword research. You can brainstorm keywords just using your brain but to perform more comprehensive keyword research, then software is the answer. It is essential to conduct research that will also tell you the volume of search per week (or month) plus the strength of competition you are up against. If you don’t consider these measures then, then you’ll be targeting the wrong keywords. Website owners often underestimate the challenge that lies ahead in generating traffic to get it off the ground. This is especially true of some eCommerce business owners, where a large proportion of the start-up budget has been consumed by the initial build of the website. Sadly, the ‘build it and they well come’ approach doesn’t always pan out. I always like to use the analogy of a website without traffic, is like a car without fuel. It’ll be nice to look at, but won’t be taking you where you want to go. So if you’re considering building a new website, don’t overlook how you will attract traffic to the site, once up and running.
Where to get keyword ideas?
Choosing keywords isn’t difficult as long as you understand how to discover them. If you’re stuck about where to find the keywords your website ought to be going after, then the approach I always like to use is the reverse engineer method. Here, I’ll take a selection of competitor sites and check them in my AHREFs account. This will give me a list of keywords that the competitor sites already show up in Google for. Not only that, it will provide the ranking URL and search volume for the keyword(s).
This helps to easily build a list of keywords to also target. It helps to identify new target keywords that I’d never have considered too. The best keywords will also depend on the type of visitor you’re looking to attract. If you’re selling blue widgets for example, then you might think that “buy blue widgets” is the ideal term, and whilst that may yield sales for your site, you should also consider informational keywords which will help widget buyers make the right decision. So in this case, targeting a term like “blue widget benefits” can also be beneficial down the line once the searcher has made their decision, and by that time, you’ve had the opportunity to get in front of them with your brand and offer, thanks to content that matched their search intent previously.
Related Search Terms
You can also find keywords & ideas straight from the Google SERPs. If you look at the bottom of the search results, you’ll see a section called Related Searches:
These are terms that Google already has in its database, which have been searched for by other people. You can use these related searches in your research to give you some other keywords to create website content around and drive your SEO strategy.
Long Tail Keywords
If your website is brand new then I’d recommend focussing on long-tail keywords. Typically, these are longer in length (3+ words), have lower competition, and lower search volume phrases but still provide relevant traffic to your site. Such low competition keywords provide a better opportunity for your website to rank for them, so you can scoop up traffic that bigger competing sites have ignored. From here, the key is to keep building, going after even more longer tail keywords until eventually, your website will have gained enough authority in Google’s eyes for it to go after more competitive, broader keyword opportunities.
We hope you enjoyed this blog post on keyword research. Doing it right will help your website show up for relevant searches and connect with your target customer. If you would like help with your SEO and keyword research, then we can help. Whether it’s national or local keywords you want to rank for, our team at AWE Search Engine Marketing has the SEO tools and experience to get your website found online and win more traffic.