Conducting Keyword Research

by Matt Stewart

What is a Keyword?

You’ve probably heard the term “keyword” thrown around from time to time. But what is a keyword? A keyword is any term or phrase that a person searches on Google, Bing, or any other search engine. These search engines use complex algorithms that try to determine the most relevant and authoritative websites and content to match your query. Keyword research acts as the building blocks for how websites and blogs climb the search engine rankings. As inbound marketers, our goal is to ensure that our content is prominent using SEO. However, before we write our content or start going through our website, we need to determine the keywords that our ideal customers (or buyer personas) will search.

Researching Keywords And What to Look For

So, how do you determine your keywords? Using knowledge of your product or service, brainstorm topic ideas about what your customers search for and what you feel best represent the brand. Let’s say you’ve identified “grilled cheese” as a topic that shows up in your customer search queries. You will need to look up the top queries searched regarding grilled cheese.

In order to find this list and information you will need a keyword research tool. These tools provide the data from which you can determine whether investing your time and efforts into a keyword for your website is worth it. Your company may already have a subscription to a paid SEO service or have a Google Adwords account from which you can set up a Keyword planner.

When you type in your determined keyword on any research planner, you should see a long list of phrases, questions, and other keywords with volume and competition scores next to them. Your ultimate goal is to have the words with the highest volume and the lowest competition. Volume is the number of people who search your term in a given month while competition is the number of websites competing for the space. The higher the competition, the more difficult it is to successfully rank your page for that keyword.

You’ll want to be strategic in how you manage your time in keywords. Even though a word might have a high competition, you’ll still want to put effort into your most important keywords. After all, if you’re a grilled cheese shop then you’ll want to compete for the keyword “grilled cheese.” You’ll also want to invest in low volume keywords because they require less investment and you will still be able to rank for them.

If you do not have one or want to avoid any set up process, we recommend these three free and easy-to-use keyword research planners:

Wordtracker

Wordtracker is a free and simple keyword research tool. This tool allows you to put in a set limit of keywords, so don’t go too search crazy, but resets over time. The advantages of Wordtracker is that you are able to click between SEO and paid search, giving an additional level of accuracy that most free research tools don’t have. Additionally, the layout of the program is easy to use with the volume and competition of each word easily displayed for side-by-side comparison.

Ubersuggest

If you’re looking for more detailed information then I recommend using Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest. The advantage of Ubersuggest is that it provides you with a trend for your keyword research instead of one number. This helps you see if your term has a seasonal life like “Pumpkin Spice Latte” which has a small search volume until about late August / September. Another great feature from Ubersuggest is its SEO difficulty ranking. The higher the number, the more difficult it will be to reach the top of the Google rankings. This will help you determine what areas are appropriate content time investments.

Google Search Bar

Sometimes there’s no better way to find out what people are searching than to use Google’s own search bar. The advantage to using Google’s search bar, besides that it is incredibly user-friendly, is that it shows live data of what people are searching. I can type in the term “grilled cheese” and Google will show me the top hits. After that I can look down the actual Google page to see what terms are ranking the highest amongst other websites or blogs. The disadvantage of using the Google search bar for keyword research, and why we recommend using it in conjunction with another SEO keyword tool, is that it does not provide you the volume of these searches. For example, it would be misleading to see a bunch of people searching “Pumpkin Spice Latte” in October and assume that it is still incredibly popular in December or June.

Once you have your list of keywords, you’ll want to start your content planning process. Blogs have become one of the greatest methods for raising your SEO. By using your keywords through blogs and ensuring the information is relevant to your audience, you will, over time, begin to see your rankings rise. Curious about how to further your own keyword research? Stay tuned for our next article that will cover this topic!

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