Whether you’re a SaaS or Ecommerce business, conducting effective keyword research should be one of your top priorities. Essential to the success of your digital marketing efforts, effective keyword research will give you insight into what kinds of searches your consumers are making, informing your content strategy across all channels.
What is keyword research?
Keyword research is the process of discovering and understanding the kind of search queries and keywords your target audience uses when searching for your products or services.
It involves exploring the kinds of keywords that resonate most with your consumers and using keyword research tools to analyze their effectiveness.
Why is keyword research so important?
Effective keyword research is key to your advertising efforts and content creation. Whether you want to run a new marketing campaign or are looking for ways to ramp up your revenue and customer base, keyword research will help you understand what kinds of things your consumers are searching for.
Since keyword research will give you insight into what customers search for, you’ll be able to curate your content and its keywords based on those findings. It can also inform you of your current keyword success rates, giving you a chance to improve or rank higher than your competitors.
You want to be the site consumers come to for their queries and needs, which means getting as close as possible to the top of the first SERP and keyword research can help you get there.
To help you with the ins and outs, we’ve created an essential guide to conducting effective keyword research for your business.
1. Plan ahead and prepare.
To make your keyword research really effective, you have to hone in on your customers. You have to figure out what kinds of things they’re searching for, the keywords they’re most likely to use, and what kind of content you can create to fill their needs.
Consider all your marketing goals and objectives, and align them with the needs of your consumers. Research to understand your target audience, asking questions such as:
· What kinds of services or products are they searching for in your niche?
· What kinds of words and questions do they use when searching?
· What are the locations of your target audience (international or national)?
· Why are they interested in your products and services?
· What kind of content do they prefer?
Once you’ve prepped, you can start focusing on creating keywords that align with your customers’ habits and needs, guiding the kind of content and campaigns you create.
2. Explore and discover keyword ideas.
The first step to conducting effective keyword research is brainstorming new ideas. As well as just looking at customer habits and preferences, you should also do a bit of in-depth research into what keywords your competitors use and explore seed ideas from your niche.
Often called starter keywords, seeds are the foundation of what your niche and products consist of. They’re usually composed of one to two words and directly relate to what you’re selling – and they’re the very beginning of your keyword research.
When coming up with seeds, think about the kind of keywords related to your industry and what your customers would typically search for. If you sell cakes, for example, some core seed keywords could include:
· Vanilla frosting
· Birthday cake
· Custom cakes
Though useful, it’s important to remember that seed keywords are just your starting point. You won’t necessarily be using these keywords in your content to target consumers, especially if you’re starting out in a competitive market.
These seeds, however, will help you in the later stages of your research, informing how you narrow down which topics to focus on.
Long-tail keywords vs. fat-head keywords
Otherwise known as seeds, fat-head keywords are the short and concise keywords that are the most popular and generic for your niche. On the other hand, long-tail keywords are generally longer search terms that are more specific and narrowed down to a particular topic.
Some examples of long-tail keywords for our imaginary cake shop could include:
· Vegan cakes in Colorado
· Cheesecake shop near me
· Cake decorating store
When doing your research, it’s key you consider whether you’re going to use long-tail or fat-head keywords, but most businesses opt for long-tail. The reason behind this is simple – you want to appear on the first SERP for a phrase you target, but to do so for very popular (fat-head) keywords is likely to take far too much effort and expense.
The most generic and common keywords are highly saturated, so competition is high. You have a better chance of ranking higher with highly specific keywords related to your niche. This goes for keyword research for PPC ads, too.
The more competitive a keyword, the more it’ll cost to beat your rivals to those clicks.
Get into the mind of users.
Another easy way to come up with keywords is by getting in the minds of users and potential customers. As well as thinking of what kind of searches they’re likely to make, do some research yourself!
Have a look at Quora and Reddit for ideas, searching for the most used keywords and phrases in questions within your niche. You might be surprised at what you find, but it could help inform you of what kinds of keywords to include next in your content or ads.
It could also be worth asking your consumers what they search for and what kinds of keywords they’re most likely to use. Consider using outbound telemarketing software and surveys to get in touch with consumers, asking them their most common questions about your products or services so that you can tune your content accordingly.
This will also help show you which topics and areas to hone in on when conducting keyword research.
Look at your competitors.
Take a deep dive into the kinds of keywords your competitors use – and this is where your brainstormed list of seed keywords will come in handy! Use those seeds to inform you of what kind of competition to look at.
If we use the example of our cake shop, we’ll find that we want to stay away from the overly commercialized and popular cake shops and bakeries, such as Greggs (for the UK) or Hummingbird Bakery. You shouldn’t see major players like this as your competitors, instead, look at those on a similar scale to yourself within your direct niche.
Perhaps you specialize in vegan cakes within the Toronto area – zone in on these details and find your competition within these margins. Once you’ve narrowed down your competitors, type in your seeds looking at what businesses come up first on the SERP.
You can then plug the most popular keywords into a site explorer or keyword research tool (more on this later) to find similar keywords to use. These tools will also give you insight into the amount of traffic that these sites are getting from using these keywords, helping you ascertain whether they’re worthwhile to use in your content or not.
One of the easiest ways to discover new keywords is using keyword research tools such as Google Keyword Planner and Ahrefs. These tools will help pull up a list of related keywords for your niche while also showing the ranking factor of each word.
They’re also important for researching the analytics behind each term, something you might already be doing with your Ecommerce analytics for store growth and revenue.
Completely free and easy to use, Google Keyword Planner is great at generating new keyword ideas that use your seed keyword for inspiration while also coming up with its own suggestions.
The Planner will also show you average monthly searches for each term, as well as their competitive rate. This is especially important when deciding whether to use a fat-head or long-tail keyword, as you’ll always want to pick one that’s most specific to your niche, to make it as easy as possible to be as high on the first SERP as you can.
Ahrefs is an equally useful tool but will cost you – it all depends on how serious you are about keyword research. While Google’s tool is more than enough to assist you, Ahrefs goes the extra mile by generating up to one million ideas with extra analytics available.
4. Analyze your keywords.
You must analyze your keyword choices to optimize campaigns and content to see if they’re doing consistently well. We’ve already covered how you can use keyword research tools to understand the intent before choosing keywords, but it’s just as important to check once you’ve implemented them into your content.
Just as you might use call metrics to understand the growth of your call center over time, you should use analytics to understand how many users your content is attracting over a period of time.
5. Incorporate keywords into your content.
Once you’ve completed your research, you can start incorporating your keywords into content and campaigns – experiment with ad types and email marketing to see what kind of content your users prefer. Though keyword success is important, it’s also crucial you use and deliver content in a format that appeals most to consumers.
6. Have the right systems in place.
Make sure you have the right systems and software in place that will allow you to conduct keyword research effectively. If you’ve got a team working on it remotely, ensure they’re equipped with the right marketing automation tools so they can focus on the most important tasks.
You could also consider installing an enterprise network security solution across your systems to protect your data and software. This is especially important if you have staff working in different locations.
This is a guest post. The views and opinions expressed by the author are solely their own and do not represent that of Optmyzr.
About the author:
Victorio is the Associate SEO Director at RingCentral, a global leader in cloud-based communications and collaboration solutions. He has over 13 years of extensive involvement in web and digital operations with diverse experience as a web engineer, product manager, and digital marketing strategist.