Keyword research has been the cornerstone of search engine optimization (SEO) since the days when Google was still altering its search algorithm to ensure that only the most appropriate websites ranked on the first page of search results. Today, the importance of selecting and targeting the right keywords is still critical, and many SEO experts only consider keyword research to be one part of a much larger strategy for higher website traffic, engagement, and conversions.
If you’re looking to with fine-tune your keyword research skills, there are many advanced strategies you can use to take your SEO to the next level. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most successful methods, providing assessment, practical tips, and professional advice to help you hone in on the perfect set of keywords for your website.
Why Keyword Research is So Important
Simply put, keyword research is the method of identifying words and phrases people Google search on the web to find content that they are interested in. It entails understanding what your audience is looking for and discovering which keywords and search queries they are using to find that specific topic. Therefore, to get your content in front of your target market, you must identify and use targeted keywords in your content that matches those search queries.
Furthermore, when you consider that approximately 70% of clicks go to organic listings(1) (non-sponsored listings on Google), optimizing your website is critical. Without understanding the content for which people search and then strategically including it on your website, Google and other search engines cannot effectively index your site. If your site isn’t optimised, it will not appear on the first page of Google’s search engine ranking pages, making it more difficult for potential customers to find out about your product or service.
Basic Keyword Research
Conducting keyword research involves mapping out which keywords work best for your website or target audience. There are many online tools – both free and paid – to help you identify the keywords that have the highest search volume and that is most relevant to your website.
The most popular free tool for keyword research is Google Ads Keyword Planner, which you can use to evaluate a wide range of keyword information, such as search volume, competition level, traffic forecasts, and keyword suggestions. Google Search Console, which provides a wealth of information about your site’s search performance, is another excellent tool to understand keyword value and how you can better optimize your content to boost its ranking.
Advanced Keyword Research Strategies
While basic keyword research provides an excellent starting point for SEO success, advanced keyword research techniques push you ahead of the competition. By adopting the following research strategies, you’ll more effectively identify the keywords and topics to target to drive success to your content marketing campaigns.
1. Analyze Your Competition’s Keyword Strategy
A simple way to stay on top of your competitors is to analyze their keyword strategy. You can perform this analysis by evaluating the keywords and information that appear on your competitors’ websites.
Start by spying on your competitors’ SEO efforts with the help of a tool such as Ahrefs or SEMRush. Both tools let you dissect the keywords used on any website, enabling you to see what is driving their search engine ranking.
Then, use Google’s Keyword Planner or other keyword research tools to evaluate the relevancy of your competitor’s keywords. Are your competitors targeting a group of keywords with high search volume? Are they incorporating long-tail keywords in their content? What about the competition’s keyword difficulty score? Understanding these insights can inform and improve your marketing strategy’s keyword focus.
2. Find Related Long-Tail Keywords
Not all keywords are created equal, and you may sometimes find the competition for broad keywords, such as “mortgage loans,” too high to compete. With long-tail keywords, you can represent specific phrases (e.g., “mortgage loans for first-time homebuyers») that have a smaller search volume, lesser competition, and can be more focused on your target audience’s search intent.
Use long-tail keyword research tools like SEMRush or AnswerThePublic to reveal related phrases that can complement the keywords you already have established. Additionally, there’s a wise probability that Voice search optimization with the use of home assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Google Home will expand the utilization of these long-tail phrases as voice search queries tend to be naturally more conversational.
3. Focus on Search Intent
Knowing your target audience’s search intent when they search for a specific inquiry is an essential part of SEO success. For example, when someone searches for “best dietitian,” is that individual looking to hire or become a dietitian? As a result, one of the most critical components of advanced keyword research is understanding why people are searching for a specific subject and the query intent behind the keyword.
Long-tail keywords are essential for uncovering search intent since they commonly encompass a specific question or issue. For example, «what are the best video editing software for beginners?» suggests that the individual is searching for instructional or educational content versus product information.
4. Use Google Auto-Complete and «People Also Ask»
The Google Auto-Complete feature provides us with a list of search queries based on the user’s primary query, appearing in the drop-down list. Additionally, check out the «People Also Ask» section, which lists out a variety of related queries based on related or relevant topics that the user might be interested in. These search results provide us with numerous ideas for general topics or queries, revealing some relevant and important keywords and phrases to target in your SEO strategy.
Keyword research holds a major role in SEO and content marketing. However, the spectrum of SEO and improving your ranking on the search engines demands a multifaceted approach. In-depth keyword research, coupled with thorough competitor analysis and understanding your audience’s search intent, can prove highly effective in your keyword research strategy.
By honing your keyword research expertise, you can optimize your content’s positioning on the SERPs, outdo competition, and increase your website’s organic and conversion rates. Always remember, the primary goal of your content marketing and SEO campaign should be to provide valuable and relevant information to your visitors. Proper optimization through keyword research subsequently follows.