Keyword research is an important activity that drives your SEO and paid search advertising. If you don’t carry out proper keyword research, then you could end up wasting a lot of your PPC budget. It could also hurt the levels of traffic you get to your website. Keyword research can also help your content marketing strategy. Discovering popular keywords gives you an idea of what topics your audience might be interested in reading about.
Getting keyword research right can be a complicated process, so here are a few tips to help you out.
Think like your audience
You might want to rank for “best pet shop Chicago”, but if your target audience isn’t searching for this term, then it won’t help you. Get into the mind-set of your audience to find words and phrases that they would actually type into a search engine. Researching your target market in depth can help you with this. You could even run small focus groups to get a direct insight.
Use keyword tools
There are lots of different online tools you can use to help you find relevant keywords. These tools can give you an idea of how often a given search term or keyword is being used, how competitive it is to rank for, and how much it would cost to target in a PPC campaign. Here are a few tools that could help with your keyword research:
Vary keyword length
Short keywords that may only consist of a single word, such as “shoes”, are known as head keywords. This kind of keywords receive really high search volumes because they apply so generally. It would be amazing brand exposure to be able to rank on page one of Google for these keywords. However, because they are so general, they are also extremely competitive as a lot of other websites will be trying to rank for them. This means you have a lower chance of ranking highly for them, and you’d have to pay a lot of money to do so with PPC campaigns.
Long-tail keywords operate in the opposite way. These are keyword phrases consisting of several words, and may be a full sentence or question. Because they are more specific, long-tail keywords are less competitive, but fewer people will search for them. Opting for more specific keywords is a good way to really hone in on the audience you want to attract. When choosing keywords, targeting a combination of head terms and long-tail keywords is an effective strategy to cover more bases.
Measure keyword quality
Monitoring the performance of your keywords is also important. If a certain keyword is bringing a lot of traffic to your website, but all of those visitors are bouncing straight off your site, then it probably isn’t getting you the kind of traffic that you want. So, as well as monitoring clicks to your site from a given keyword, also keep track of how well those clicks are converting or engaging on your site.
We don’t mean approach your keyword research with a defeatist attitude. Adding negative keywords to your PPC campaigns is a strategy you shouldn’t ignore. As well as adding keywords you want your ad to be shown for, you can also select words and phrases to rule out. This means people searching for these keywords won’t be shown your add or search listing. For example, if you sell eyeglasses, then you might want to add words like “wine” or “pint” to your negative keywords list to exclude people searching for the wrong type of glasses.
Your audience will use different language depending on what kind of information they are looking for. For example, if someone is considering buying a new smartphone, a search they conduct in their research phase will be different to one they conduct later on when they have decided what model they want.
So, someone searching for “best new smartphones in 2017” probably hasn’t got very far in the buying cycle and are simply looking for information. On the other hand, a search for “iPhone 7 monthly contract” probably comes from someone who has basically made up their mind and is just comparing providers.
Think about the aim of the content or page you are directing your audience to. If you are optimizing a blog post for search, then questions that come during the discovery phase will be useful. Whereas, if you are running a PPC campaign that aims to convert visitors and make sales, more specific search terms will help to target people who are ready to buy.
Keyword research is a tricky skill to master. The tools and tips provided here should give you a head start in finding the keywords that are relevant to your website and audience.