Keyword Research 101: The How, Why, and Strategy Behind Keywords

Writing epic content is key to generating traffic to your website. 

But epic content is nothing without a robust search engine optimization strategy.

And SEO means nothing without solid keyword research.

Keywords are capable of drastically increasing web traffic, leads, and most importantly… sales. For free. That’s right; with a proper keyword research plan, you can find your way to the screens of the exact audience you want to sell to without spending a dime on ads. 

As a digital marketer, you know that keyword research isn’t just a useful option, but an absolute necessity. If you aren’t creating content around relevant keywords, if you aren’t identifying essential niche terms being used by your target audience, and if your organic traffic and ROI are in the toilet, we urge you to study up on your keyword research!

Here’s some studying material for you:

SEO Basics: What is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is the process of identifying the best keywords for your business to generate organic traffic to your website, which, in turn, will help increase your leads, conversions, and bottom line. The purpose is to find the exact terms that your target audience types into a search engine when seeking specific information about your industry or products.

It is best performed at the beginning of your SEO process, so you don’t waste valuable time targeting the wrong search term, and thus find the need to re-optimize your work.

And we all know how tedious that can be.

Keyword research is used not only to properly optimize our content for search engines but also to discover relevant topics that one should be writing about to stay current and what terms should be implemented.

Why Conduct Keyword Research?

You want to target visitors that are ready to buy, right? Of course, you do, or you wouldn’t be here.

Keyword research is essential in getting the right visitors to your website. You can have tens of thousands of visitors a day, but if they aren’t your target audience, all you will take away is a visually pleasing Google Analytics traffic report and nothing more.

Traffic is great, but if your goal is to gather subscribers, sell a product, and improve your ROI, you need to optimize for your preferred visitor.

1,000 targeted readers are better than 10,000 general readers who are visiting without intent.

Keyword research allows you to tap into customers who are deep in the buying cycle; people who are beyond the ‘awareness’ stage, and have found their way into the ‘consideration’ and ‘purchase’ stages.

The more specific a long-tail keyword is, the more likely it is that your visitor has the intent of buying something. For example, someone searching DSLR cameras is probably just fact-finding, whereas someone searching new Nikon D610 camera has a good idea of what they want and are looking for the best vendor.

How to Research Keywords

There are countless ways to find and filter through potential keywords for your business. There are also several questions to keep in mind when refining your list.

  • What is the search volume? This metric will tell you how many searches are conducted each month for your keyword. The higher the volume, the better your chances are to get traffic from it.
  • Who is my competition, and do I have a chance to rank for this keyword? Determine how hard it would be to rank for your keyword by analyzing your competition. What sites are already ranking for it? What is their Domain Authority (DA) as compared to yours? Could your site overtake them if you created better content that Google would favor over theirs? 
  • What questions does my audience have concerning these keywords? By understanding what your audience wants and answering those questions with valuable information, you can implement the exact terms they search for within your content (hello, headings!). Become a one-stop-shop, and they won’t need to go anywhere else.

Step 1: Identify Your Target Audience

Before you can conduct any keyword research, you first need to know whom you want to target and what you want them to do once they land on your website. 

What is your definition of a conversion?

Do you want to teach them something? Use informational terms, often in the form of a question, such as how to, tutorial, and step by step guide.

Do you want them to buy something? Use product and transactional terms related to your goods or services, such as affordable SEO course, or iPhone 8 case.

Are your products or content made for a specific audience? Use audience terms, such as for women, for college students,or for millennials.

Whether you want your audience to simply consume your information, or you want them to take a specific action like subscribing to your email list, taking your free course, hiring you, or buying your product, you must have a clear target. Once you have a clear target, you can refine your keyword research to reflect that target. 

Step 2: Create a List of Potential Keywords 

Before hitting the SEO tools, use your brain first.

You’ve defined your target audience, now put yourself in their shoes. If you were searching for information related to your website’s niche, what terms would you use? Brainstorm!

Let’s revisit that camera example. Say I want to buy a DSLR camera. I might start with:

  • Cheap DSLR Cameras
  • Affordable DSLR Cameras
  • Used DSLR Cameras
  • Buy DSLR Cameras
  • Best DSLR Cameras
  • DSLR Cameras for Beginners
  • Where to buy DSLR cameras

You get the idea.

These potential keywords suggest buyer intent. I want to make a purchase. This is a product/transactional search term, not informational. Those conducting searches using phrases like this are most likely in the ‘consideration’ stage of the buying cycle.

Step 3: Use Keyword Tools, then Analyze Your Competitors

Once you’ve brainstormed a list of potential keywords, it’s time to use the vast array of resources at your disposal to extend and refine it. Like AuthorityLabs, for example. 😉

Why do you need more?

Well, chances are your list consists of predominantly seed keywords that are most likely incredibly difficult to rank for. 

You can use SEO tools like AuthorityLabs, Google’s suggestions and related searches, social media trends, and even your own website to figure out what your target audience is looking for.

Have a site search bar? Track the search queries using Google Analytics to see if there are any topics or critical terms that you have yet to use. You can also head over to Twitter and Pinterest to further identify appropriate modifiers to add to your seeds.

Once you’ve found your ideal keywords, check out the competition.

It’s essential that you know and understand your competition so that you can filter out the keywords that you’d be wasting your time on and instead, focus on long-tail keywords that websites of similar prowess are ranking for.

How can you identify the strength of your competitor? Look at their domain authority, how old their site is, what external links they’ve included, and most importantly, how well they have optimized their content for the keyword in question.

Is the keyword in their title, URL, meta description, image titles, and headings? How many times is it referenced? Have they keyword stuffed? What kind of value does the content offer, and how long is it?

If the content is not well-optimized, there is a good chance you can overtake them.

What makes a good keyword? Well, it should have good traffic volume, the competition should be within your reach, and most importantly… it should be relevant. If a keyword doesn’t make sense to your content, there is no sense in trying to awkwardly make it fit in. Your audience isn’t there for that, so it’s pointless. Focus on relevance.

Keyword research is essential in any digital marketing strategy and should be at the forefront of any content creation. Build your content around your keywords, don’t create your content, and then add them in! 

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