SEO – or Search Engine Optimization is the process of maximizing the organic traffic to your website by ensuring that your website is ranked high on Search Engine Search Results (SERP). “Okay, but what’s in it for me?” SEO enhances the visibility of your webpage. Simple. When you enter a search query – more commonly known as Keywords – on Google, the web pages served to you are not randomly shown.
These are the web pages that have been carefully optimized according to Google’s ranking parameters, using the process known as Search Engine Optimization. Despite being a billionaire, you can not buy top ranking on Google’s Search Engine Result Pages (SERP) – you have to work for it and that starts with a deep dive into keyword research in SEO.
The words you use to write a search query on Google are called keywords (in the world of digital marketing). These keywords go into Google’s database to bring search results on SERP – they are the keys to unlocking information in Google’s database. Keyword research is an essential practice for an effective SEO strategy – it is the process of searching for popular search terms related to your services which people type into Google and then strategically use those keywords in your content so that your content can rank on the first page of Google results. Getting keywords wrong can get your entire SEO wrong.
If you have digitalized your business, you need to stay in touch with your audience – listen to what (service/content/product) they want, how much they want it and how often they want it? Listen to it closely by analyzing the keywords they are using. By conducting keyword research before launching full-fledged into an SEO strategy, you reap the following, money-making benefits:
- Know what services/content/product people are searching for
- Figure out what keywords relate the most to your brand/business
- Find out which keywords to target in order to increase traffic/conversions
- See what keywords your competitors are ranking for
- Facilitate Google and other search engines in ranking you for certain keywords
Would you sell a product or write content that has no market? Everyone who’s looking to attract traffic and make conversions would say “No.” Before choosing keywords to include in your content, you need to know their demand in the market, and you need to do it before setting up your content. So, Keyword research must essentially be the first step in your SEO efforts. You can not effectively optimize your website without knowing what keywords you are targeting for. You can conduct keyword research to:
- Optimize your current webpage (content)
- Get new ideas for content
- Discover new niches to sell in
The more you know, the better is your SEO keywords strategy. You do not just have to conduct keyword research and target keywords to facilitate you in SEO, you have to target the right type of keywords that have the potential to drive traffic and consequently, conversions for your brand. This is not possible if you do not know that keywords have types. Yes, keywords have types, and here’s our effort to help you get familiarized with them.
As much as the name reminds us of a quirky poodle wagging his short tail in the air – this is not what the term means. These keywords usually only have one, two, or three words that do not define the clear search intent of the user who searched them. They are not very meaningful. For example, the word “mobile phone” is a short-tail keyword because it does not specify if the user who is making the search query wants to buy or sell a mobile phone, is just browsing its prices, or just wants to retrieve the definition of it. These keywords have a very high search volume – they are searched by hundreds and millions of users sometimes. You can not scale the SERP simply by targeting these broad keywords, and they rarely convert because the intent is never clear. They are not useful for commercial purposes.
These are the keywords that have more than three words and are comparatively more meaningful than short-tail keywords. They define the specific needs of the searcher, for example, if someone searches “Mobile phone shops in New York”, there is a high chance that the searcher intends to buy a mobile phone and is looking for shops that sell them. If you are a mobile phone seller in New York and target these keywords, you might be able to attract leads that convert. Long-tail keywords have low search volume and high conversion rates and are especially included on product pages if you are running a business.
This type of keyword is target-specific – meaning they directly describe your brand’s products/services model and create a unique persona of your product amongst your peers who offer the same products. Well-known companies who are employing keywords in and out in their SEO content strategy use product-defining keywords for each of their products/services so that their potential customers can find them easily. They have a very low search volume and a very high conversion rate. “Apple Macbook Air (13”, M1, 2020)” is one such keyword.
These are the keywords that recognize specific subsets of your audience. Searchers use keywords to characterize themselves gender-wise, age-wise, occupation-wise, height-wise, etc. in their search queries. These help you understand your audience and create content that is well-suited for them. You can target these keywords for commercial purposes to boost conversions. For example, “Slippers for women” is a customer-defining keyword that you can use to address your customer and give them an impression that your product is made for them. These keywords have specific search intent, low search volume, and a high conversion rate.
These are location-focused keywords to lead the searchers to the set of results from their geographical proximity. Your local business or company would be given priority on SERP, simply if you have used geo-targeted keywords by inserting your location in the keyword. For example, if you are a New York-based small, Chinese eatery in the United States, you might want to use the keyword “New York” in your otherwise targeted keywords.
LSI keywords – short for Latent Semantic Indexing Keywords, which are the semantic variants of your focus keyword. They are closely related to your main keyword in terms of meaning, they might be synonymous and sometimes metonymical. If you use these keywords in your content on your webpage, then your content is likely to show up on SERP for various keywords similar to your main keyword, which the searchers are typing. For example, if your main keyword is “jingles for toddlers”, then instead of stuffing your content with the same keyword everywhere, you can consider using “lullabies for kids”. These keywords have low search volume and specific search intent.
If you run a business online, then you are in a digital marketplace where hundreds of other sellers are selling similar services. If you are a content creator, you are not the only one with the ideas. You have competition. When you are targeting a keyword to use on your webpage, you are not the only one. The competition level is the level of difficulty involved in order to rank your webpage against a certain keyword on SERP.
If you are entering a highly competitive industry, then your best bet is using low competition long-tail keywords instead of high competition keywords which many sellers have already targeted and are ranked upon. A less competition keyword means that you are more likely to rank on Google. Once your traffic starts growing or when your conversions begin increasing, you can always move from low competition to high competition keywords. But to establish what keywords have high competition and which low, you have to conduct advanced keyword research.
As a beginner, you need to follow closely these steps to up your Keyword research in order to establish a strong keyword strategy.
Step 1: Run a thorough analysis of your digital business and figure out the topics which can be associated with your business generically. This will give you a broad, rough idea of what generic topics you want to rank against on Google.
Step 2: Brainstorm keywords relevant to the topics you have associated with your business.
Step 3: Type in the keywords listed in step 2 on Google and consider the “related searches” section for more keyword ideas. Create a list of all your keyword ideas now.
Step 4: Use keyword Research tools (discussed later in the article) to help you come up with more keyword ideas.
Step 5: Use keyword research tools to sort your keywords according to their search volume, relevance, competition level, and traffic estimates.
Step 6: Filter out the keywords you need – give priority to long-tail keywords which meet your business goal.
Step 7: If you are working on an SEO strategy for a small business, shortlist only those keywords which have low competition and high volume.
You can use the following keyword research tool to kickstart your keyword research for an effective SEO effort:
- Google Keyword Planner (Simplest tool, freemium)
- KWFinder (for an easy-to-navigate interface and key metrics)
- Ubersuggests (A freemium platform)
- Ahrefs Keyword Explorer (extensive metrics)
- Long Tail Pro (2500+ SERP lookups)
A marketer’s success lies in full-funnel content marketing – strategically using Keywords Research and SEO for each stage of the Purchase funnel until a conversion is made. The funnel experience is a three-part journey for a potential consumer. The three stages of the funnel journey are listed below along with the keywords focus for each stage:
- TOFU – Top of the Funnel (Awareness stage for a potential buyer)
Conduct keyword research and design content for your webpage which caters to the broader, intent-based, general how-to keywords/queries of the potential customer. The keywords can include “tips for…”, “strategies for…”, and generic queries like “what is…”
- MOFU – Middle of the Funnel (Consideration stage for a potential buyer)
Conduct keyword research and design content for your webpage which caters to the general queries/keywords of searchers while providing the best possible solutions to their pain points. Keywords used can range from “best plan for…” etc.
- BOFU – (Bottom of the Funnel (Decision stage for a potential buyer)
At this point, the potential customer already knows your brand so you can use product-related, intent-focused keywords to generate sales.