Isn’t it frustrating not to drive traffic to your website despite putting so much effort into keyword research and content creation? Isn’t it sickening enough to see your competition command all the visibility and attention online? Your pain ends here with this guide.
Keywords are the foundation of any SEO strategy. But despite many business owners knowing this, they are yet to grasp the ins and outs of finding keywords that will drive traffic and leads to their websites. Consequently, they experience low revenue generation while losing plenty of business to their competitors ahead of the curve.
You do not have to keep losing revenue opportunities to low online visibility. This guide gives you practical keyword research tips you can leverage for your business or your client’s business. Let’s dive right in.
1. Analyze Your Business and Customers
The first keyword research step is understanding your business and customers. You want to determine what makes your business tick: financial stability, unique products, dedicated staff, or anything else.
Understanding your business helps you align relevant keywords with your business goals. For example, if you want to drive more organic traffic to your website, you might target high-volume or trend-based keywords. In contrast, niche, local, and how-to keywords are best suited for lead generation.
Understand how potential customers search for businesses/products like yours online. From there, create content that suits the keywords your customers use.
Another integral part of analyzing your customers is building buyer personas. These are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customer and contain quantifiers like:
- Behavioral traits
- Stage of life
- Spending power
Take your time to create thorough customer profiles. That way, you understand your target buyers’ needs and appeal to them better.
2. Determine the Query Intent
Organic results are primarily based on what the search engines interpret to be the searcher’s intent. There exist three common types of search queries:
With informational queries, searchers are not looking for a particular website or intending to make a commercial transaction- they are simply looking for answers to questions or guides to perform particular tasks.
An example of an informational query would be “making coffee.”
To effectively target informational queries, offer helpful, industry-related content optimized with long-tail keywords. This will help your content perform well on search engines for relevant but less competitive queries.
A navigational query suffices when an individual looks for a specific website or webpage. For example, when you enter “facebook” into the Google search bar to find the Facebook site rather than type the site’s URL.
A navigational query has vivid intent and isn’t easy to target unless you own the website a user is looking for. The searcher has the specific website in mind; if it’s not yours, you stand no chance of ranking in the organic results.
To know whether you need to optimize for navigational queries, search for your company on Google. If it ranks at the top of organic results, you are good to go. If not, optimize your website to ensure Google finds relevant information about your company. For this purpose, include business-specific information like brand name, services, products, and location.
Another trick is running PPC ads for your business to ensure your site appears on top of your brand’s navigational query results. See how Harmony Home Medical does this below:
Searchers perform a transactional query if they intend to complete a transaction, such as a purchase. These queries may include terms like “order,” “buy,” or “purchase,” or specific brand names and products like “Tecno Spark 5 Air”. A generic like “iced coffee maker” can also work. Many local searches are transactional, for example, “San Diego Medical Equipment Supplier.”
To optimize your product listings or service pages for transactional queries, ensure you include transactional keywords in your content, title tags, image alt text, and more.
3. Create a List of Keywords
Using the knowledge from the discovery stage, build a list of topics relevant to your business, separating these ideas into groups based on their similarity. Understand some keywords are good for informational queries while others will likely lead to a customer transaction.
Using Google Analytics, Search Console, or any other rank tracking tool, check the keywords your business rank for. Skip any branded term. Next, search the search terms on Google and check for their variations in the “People Also Ask” section and related search terms in Google’s organic results.
You can discover more variations using free keyword research tools such as Answer the Public, Google Trends, and more.
It is important to refine and prioritize your phrases. Start with distinguishing between short-tail and long-tail keywords. Short-tail keywords are broad terms often consisting of one or two words and have higher search volume and competition. Long-tail keywords are more descriptive terms comprising three to five or more words and have much lower search volume and competition.
Don’t just focus on short-tail terms with higher search volume. It is difficult to outrank the big boys using these phrases.
Keyword research tools usually indicate keyword difficulty for each phrase. The higher the metric, the harder it is to rank for that particular keyword. Many opportunities lie within the long-tail keywords as consumer searches continue to be more conversational.
Experts recommend targeting short-tail keywords for long-term wins and long-tail phrases for short-term wins. The soft spot is targeting keywords with higher search volume but with keyword difficulty of less than 60%.
4. Analyze Your Competitors
Your competitors have already conducted keyword research, built content, elevated their link-building efforts, and optimized their pages to boost performance. Checking and evaluating their SEO strategies (especially if they perform better online) can greatly help your keyword research process.
The main goal of competitor analysis in keyword research is to identify valuable phrases and concepts. Enter the competitor’s URL in a keyword research tool, and look for metrics that display the value of the phrases your competitors rank for, from keyword difficulty, and potential traffic to CPC (cost per click).
Don’t forget to check the phrases your competitors use in their ad campaigns. If they use phrases with high CPC, it indicates they are valuable phrases with high conversion potential. But don’t ignore their low-CPC terms.
Check Link Profiles
Another way of discovering concepts that matter to your ideal customers is by checking your competitor’s link profiles. If there are content pages with a significantly higher number of inbound links, that indicates the content is valuable to the competitor’s customers and audiences.
Identify unique links too! If a page covering a certain concept receives inbound links, but no other business/website is getting links related to that concept, then you know that’s a worthy concept. And since there is little competition, you can build better content and potentially outrank your competitor.
Additionally, if two or more competitors are getting links to pages about the same idea, look to target that concept on your website.
Evaluate the Pages
Competitor analysis is incomplete without an evaluation of their pages. Study the heading, page structure, and critical optimization elements such as title tags, H1 headings, image alt texts, and meta descriptions.
Analyze the content quality, and determine its readability score. Is it tailored to expert readers or lower comprehension levels? Is it long-form or short-form?
Check how the competitor incorporates visuals in their content. Do they include multiple images? Do they embed videos on their blogs?
5. Create Unique and Valuable Content
Now that you have your keyword lists and know what works for your competitors, start creating content that offers value to your target audience. Create different kinds of content for particular keywords, including blogs, eBooks, whitepapers, case studies, guides, etc. You can start with blogs and build your way up to the advanced content types as your business grows. For example, case studies require real-life customer success stories.
Common is the advice that repeating your target keywords as much as possible and in several spots makes it easier for search engine bots to find your pages. This has to be the worst advice you can offer an SEO beginner. The practice is known as keyword stuffing and is focused on manipulating search engine organic listings. Not only does keyword stuffing damage your communication efforts, but it is also highly frowned upon by search engines. The image below illustrates this black-hat SEO technique:
In white-hat SEO, it’s not about stuffing your copy with keywords; it’s about ensuring the terms appear in an appropriate frequency in your copy. Highly recommended keyword practices include:
- Placing your target keyword in your title, meta descriptions, H1 and H2 tags(if possible), in the beginning, middle, and end of your copy,
- Using at most two unique keywords per page
- Starting your title tag with your keyword
- Beginning the first sentence of the first paragraph with your keyword
7. Evaluate and Optimize
Evaluate your site and see what’s performing and not working. Check your rank tracking tools to see what draws more attention from users or experiencing higher than normal bounce rates. Check whether you are ranking for certain queries or losing visibility.
Using the evaluation data, dive into on-page optimization, including optimizing your title tags, Hi headings, alt attributes, meta description, and source code. If your web pages are not ranking at all for your target keyword, there could be a few reasons:
- Your content quality is lacking.
- You need better titles and H1 headings.
- The pages need some inbound links from reputable sites in your industry.
To grow your authority and credibility, you must create new content continually and update your old content to align with new trends and information. But always remember, it is quality over quantity when it comes to content marketing success.
Repurpose the old, well-performing content to drive more results. You can tweak an old blog with a new twist or convert a blog into a video.
The Bottom Line
There you have them, practical keyword research tips to drive the customers you want to your website. However, keyword research is not a one-and-done technique. Continually evaluate your website’s performance and look for new keyword opportunities.
If you need help with content marketing for your business, don’t hesitate to drop ContentGenics a message here.