When it comes to search, Google’s the undisputed king with a market share of 86.6%, according to Statista.com. While the search engine giant uses more than 200 ranking methods in its algorithms, keywords still play a significant factor in which organic search results that Google shows. When it comes to SEO, keyword research is the foundation for building effective search marketing and content marketing campaigns.
1. Know Your Target Customer
Before starting your keyword research, it’s important to take stock of your target customers and what they want when they’re searching for your products or services. Identify the key traits your high-value customers share and create buyer personas.
It’s also important to think about where that customer may be in their buying journey. Different keywords may be needed for customers in the Awareness phases versus the Purchase phase.
2. Do Keyword Research
When you’re trying to identify which keywords rank the highest on Google, you may benefit from going right to the source. Google Keyword Planner can show you the most popular searches for keywords related to your industry, average monthly searches being conducted for keywords, and a suggested bid price via Google Ads. This can give you a good indication of what it takes to rank high for organic search and for PPC (Pay per Click).
Wordstream also has a free keyword research tool for SEO.
When analyzing keywords, there are a couple of things to keep in mind:
- Google’s algorithm is built around trying to uncover searcher intent. This means it’s not just keywords you’re worried about, but key phrases. Think about how people will ask Google for results.
- Look for keywords that drive substantial amounts of traffic but fall within your CPA (cost per acquisition) model for profitability.
- Long-tail keywords may provide less traffic but the traffic it brings can lead to higher conversions since users are searching for something specific that you can provide.
3. Examine Your Competitor’s Keywords
You’re looking to rank higher in organic search than your competitors, so it makes sense to see which keywords your competitors’ win. Analyze your competitors’ URLs and see where they outrank you for keywords.
There are several tools online that will let you do this, including SEMRush, BuzzSumo, and SpyFu. Some tools will show you not just organic search keywords, but also search campaigns your competitors are currently running. You may be able to reverse engineer where your competitors are succeeding and use that information to your advantage.
4. Create Content with Value
No matter how much keyword research you do, and how much traffic you can drive to your site, you won’t get the results you want if you don’t have solid content that provides value to searchers. While the specifics of Google’s algorithms are a tightly guarded secret, content quality, and relevance to searcher intent play a significant role.
It’s not that different than product marketing. If you’ve got a great presentation, you may get people to sample you but the product inside the wrapping isn’t high quality, they likely won’t come back for more. When you’re giving them free samples, it won’t lead to conversions if you can’t deliver the goods.